The Food Conspiracy Co-op, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in February, recently agreed to lease a building that will more than double the size of the co-op’s physical footprint.
The 6500-square-foot building at 425 E. Seventh Street is a two-story structure that was formerly office space for Verizon and others. The building features a 1,000-square foot area that the co-op plans to convert to a commercial kitchen. It is owned by Hoff-7th LLC, an investment group represented by Ann Lovell, a local CPA known for her philanthropic endeavors, and Richard Studwell, who has developed several inner city projects and restored numerous prominent historic buildings throughout the state.
The new, larger kitchen will allow the co-op to expand its deli menu, which currently includes two daily soups and a variety of sandwiches, wraps and salads. The co-op also plans to begin to offer expanded catering services.
Currently, the Food Conspiracy’s Avenue Deli prepares its popular foods in a kitchen that is the size of a walk-in closet. The co-op’s new, larger kitchen will include a walk-in freezer and cooler, double-stack convection ovens and a six-burner range.
“The co-op traces much of its recent financial success to the growth in popularity of its deli,” says Coley Ward, Food Conspiracy marketing manager. “People love our tempeh BLT sandwiches, carrot and kale salad, and red lentil dahl soup. Soon, they’ll have even more options to choose from.”
A full service grocery store is a key element in the establishment of a viable mixed-use, residential infill area, and neighborhoods in other cities have gone to great lengths to lure grocery stores. Phil Whitmore, former Director of Transit Oriented Development for Metro Portland, says that their research “showed that a viable grocery store in an infill neighborhood added more per-square-foot value to nearby housing than any other demographic factor.”
Ward 6 City Councilmember Steve Kozachik lauded the co-op’s announcement, saying “this is an exciting addition to 4th Avenue and I know the community is really going to embrace this expansion.”
The Food Conspiracy Co-op began as a buying club in 1971 with the motto, “food for people, not for profit.” Anyone can shop at the co-op, which is collectively owned by nearly 2,000 people.
Food Conspiracy Marketing Manager