Author Archives: Doug Marranci

About Doug Marranci

Founding Member and Director of Operations at PREP A Unique Shared Kitchen Facility in Atlanta Georgia for Specialty Food Producers and Dedicated Commissary Kitchens for Food Trucks

Hurricane Relief Aid for Puerto Rico – Open your hearts

Please contribute goods!  Our friends and PREP family, Cuchifritos Puerto Rican Eatery, are working to help the thousands of their Puerto Rican brothers and sisters who were affected by the recent Hurricane that caused widespread devastation and left the entire island without power.

We have an opportunity as a community to come together and help Cuchifritos help the people who need it most.

Their connection with Delta will get the items delivered directly to the affected areas.

Watch a video on 11 Alive Click Here

Learn more about “Cuchifritos Puerto Rican Eatery”  More about Cuchifritos Click Here. 

Let’s all get together and help by giving until it hurts.

PREP and Truck & Tap is are drop off points for items that are needed.

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Truck & Tap in Woodstock is also a drop off point for relief items.
Bring them to Truck & Tap – 8640 Main Street, Woodstock Georgia, 30188

Bring all items to PREP on Monday – Friday between 10 am and 3 pm.
If you absolutely need to drop off quantities of items outside of this timeframe call me directly @ 470-448-4053

Doug
PREP Cook Create Connect
3300 Marjan Drive, Atlanta GA 30340
404-920-4150

PREP  (404) 920-4150

Fetch Truck Rental Now Available to PREP Members!

Fetch Truck Rental at PREP

Fetch and PREP partner to provide on-demand truck rental for upcoming culinary startups

Fetch Truck Rental at PREP

Fetch is thrilled to share that we’ve launched a new partnership with PREP Atlanta. Now, PREP Atlanta members have 24/7 access to Fetch hourly and daily truck rentals onsite at PREP.

Through our work with growing culinary startups such as Sifted, we’ve gotten to know the PREP team and seen the amazing work they’re doing in helping culinary startups to quickly launch their products. PREP helps these companies by providing all of the infrastructure they need to launch and grow. No worrying about equipment or licenses – PREP handles everything.

For many food startups, one of the key ingredients to their infrastructure is transportation. It’s too costly, and it simply takes too much time, to purchase a company truck or van. And, a personal vehicle doesn’t provide the cargo space required for large deliveries.

By having Fetch vehicles available onsite at PREP, members can now access our cargo vans 24/7, renting them for as little as an hour at a time. Because there’s no physical office that needs to be open to rent a Fetch truck (your phone unlocks the truck!), Fetch fits perfectly within the chaotic, off-hours schedule of a culinary entrepreneur.

We’re delighted that the PREP team has partnered with Fetch, and we’re even happier to assist the incredible companies at PREP in continuing their growth.

You can view details about our truck at PREP and rent a truck by the hour or day anytime through the Fetch website.

Truck Rental PREP

See original blog post about truck rental at PREP by Adam Steinberg on the Fetch website Click Here

Sign up for PREP’s Email List Click Here

PREP Cook-Create-Connect is a fully licensed unique shared kitchen concept. Established with one goal in mind
to help build and support small food businesses in Metro Atlanta.
PREP provides state-of-the-art commercial shared kitchen space, test kitchens resources, food procurement and guidance to a talented and creative class of entrepreneurs.
These are specialty food producers, baker, caterers and mobile food service operators, along with the next generation of food artisans. PREP is a privately held company based in Atlanta, GA.
For more information about PREP please call (404) 920-4150
or visit www.PREPatl.com    PREP on Facebook – PREP on Twitter – Truck & Tap – Atlanta Food Truck Catering

Did you know that the more than 50 pieces of artwork that line the walls of PREP are by our very own JR Santos! Take a look at his website Jr’s Abstract Art for sale in Atlanta – Jr’s Abstract Art on Facebook

PREP is an Amazon Fresh Pickup Point – Increase your sales!

Amazon Fresh Local Market PREP Atlanta

PREP is being approved by Amazon Fresh Local Market!

Amazon Fresh at PREP

PREP is proud to announce that PREP will be a daily pickup point
for producers who want to sell on the
New Amazon Fresh Local Market program in atlanta.

Amazon Fresh – Most of your awesome products will be a good fit for this platform. Doug Marranci will help you figure out what products will work.  Maybe you might even make a product just for this opportunity.   If you make Anything, come check it out.  Chefs, Caterers, Specialty Food Producers. ANYONE WHO MAKES A GREAT FOOD PRODUCT.  (Maybe even a food truck)

Increase your sales on a daily basis. Control your sales quantity. Make more money.

This week, appointments are available for PREP Members.

Tomorrow, Tuesday July 25th at 10 am, and again next Tuesday, August 1st at 1 pm, I will be meeting with interested Members to discuss how this works.  Even if you don’t have a product that you think will work, let’s talk.  This might be worth developing a product for the site.

Please call JR to reserve your spot.

This is an excellent opportunity for All PREP Members to participate.  Take a look below to see some of the items that are currently available on Amazon Fresh Local Market.

Amazon Fresh PREP Atlanta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doug Marranci | Director of Operations | PREP Cook | Create | Connect | 404.987.6958 (o) | www.prepatl.com

Amazon Fresh Local Market Click Here

Amazon Fresh Local Market – Specialty Foods and Prepared Foods Click Here

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO OUR EMAIL UPDATE LIST

WATCH FOR OUR ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT OUR HUGE EXPANSION!

PREP Cook-Create-Connect is a fully licensed unique shared kitchen concept. Established with one goal in mind
to help build and support small food businesses in Metro Atlanta.
PREP provides state-of-the-art commercial shared kitchen space, test kitchens resources, food procurement and guidance to a talented and creative class of entrepreneurs.
These are specialty food producers, baker, caterers and mobile food service operators, along with the next generation of food artisans. PREP is a privately held company based in Atlanta, GA.
For more information about PREP please call (404) 920-4150
or visit www.PREPatl.com    PREP on Facebook – PREP on Twitter – Truck & Tap – Atlanta Food Truck Catering

Did you know that the more than 50 pieces of artwork that line the walls of PREP are by our very own JR Santos! Take a look at his website Jr’s Abstract Art for sale in Atlanta – Jr’s Abstract Art on Facebook

PREP’s Culture is People! Shared Kitchens – Food Producers

shared kitchens commercial kitchens it is a culture

People make working at PREP’s Shared Kitchen Fun!

shared kitchens commercial kitchens it is a culture

PREP’s Shared Kitchen is always full of every type of food entrepreneur from Bakers, Caterers, Specialty Food Producers, Juice Manufacturers, food trucks and many more!

There is never a dull moment in PREP’s Shared Kitchen. You have the support of more than 100 food start up owners to share ideas, resources and success.  More than 200 businesses have been launched at PREP.  400+ jobs have been created here.  Don’t you want to be a part of this too?

 

Food Producers, Caterers and Food Truck Commissary Kitchens
Starting your own food business with PREP is a breeze.  We help with licensing and permitting.   Our website and social media is seen by thousands of people each week.  PREP has relationships with third party vendors who can help with any needs from recipe development, food safety training, packaging, labeling, marketing and much more!

Shared Kitchens PREP incubators

Bring out your ideas for that sauce, candy, jelly, beverage or mama’s famous recipe and launch your food business today.

PREP is a platform for Atlanta’s creative food entrepreneurs to achieve their aspirations in this local food centric area. Consumers want to see lists of ingredients that they can pronounce.  Many producers started after making products in their homes for family members with specific dietary restrictions. Word spread about these wonderful products and a business was born.

If you are ready to launch your food business, or accelerate your business to the next level, PREP is the place for you.  Give Michele a call @ 404-920-4150 Today!

 

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO OUR EMAIL UPDATE LIST

WATCH FOR OUR ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT OUR HUGE EXPANSION!

PREP Cook-Create-Connect is a fully licensed unique shared kitchen concept. Established with one goal in mind
to help build and support small food businesses in Metro Atlanta.
PREP provides state-of-the-art commercial shared kitchen space, test kitchens resources, food procurement and guidance to a talented and creative class of entrepreneurs.
These are specialty food producers, baker, caterers and mobile food service operators, along with the next generation of food artisans. PREP is a privately held company based in Atlanta, GA.
For more information about PREP please call (404) 920-4150
or visit www.PREPatl.com    PREP on Facebook – PREP on Twitter – Truck & Tap – Atlanta Food Truck Catering

Did you know that the more than 50 pieces of artwork that line the walls of PREP are by our very own JR Santos! Take a look at his website Jr’s Abstract Art for sale in Atlanta – Jr’s Abstract Art on Facebook

PREP Atlanta announces $7 million expansion – AJC Article

ajc-prep-kitchen-expansion-plans-header

 

PREP Atlanta – The explosion of micro food businesses in Atlanta has given rise to a multitude of shared kitchen spaces that provide production space, resources and guidance to area culinary entrepreneurs…

Such growth continues with PREP’s announcement today of expansion plans. The Atlanta-based shared kitchen facility and culinary incubator has acquired 68,000 square feet of space at the office park adjacent to its current facility at 3300 Marjan Drive, near the intersection of Interstates 85 and 285.
Plans call for creating a campus-style enviroment for its culinary tenants.The first phase of the development is a $7 million project to convert one of two buildings at the Presidential Commons office park into 33,000 square feet of culinary production space called PREP2.

Construction is scheduled to begin in January 2017. The company hopes to make the space available to PREP members by mid-2017. No timeline has been set for converting the second of the two buildings into additional space for culinary use.“After two and a half years of operation, we’ve been able to accelerate companies that they get to a point where they are now wanting their own facility,” said Mitch Jaffe, PREP co-founder, CEO and CFO.“PREP2 is the next level space for our successful companies where they can now have their own dedicated 24-hour space.”PREP2 will house 19 mobile food service operators and will also have

PREP Shared Kitchen, Food Truck Commissary Kitchens Expansion

16 commercial production kitchens for small-to- medium-sized businesses in need of a manufacturing facility, catering or central commissary operations, Jaffe said.

The shared kitchen facility and food business accelerator currently houses 112 small food companies. Members include specialty food producers, catering companies and mobile food service operators.

Members are given 24-hour access to food production and storage space. They can also utilize a business center and conference area and save time and money by using PREP’s in-house procurement program to purchase wholesale food and supplies.

The culinary industry job count at PREP is estimated to be about 350 jobs. PREP2 is expected to add between 250 and 400 jobs to Atlanta’s culinary industry.

PREP was founded by Jaffe, his wife Michele Jaffe, Doug Marranci and JR Santos. It opened doors in June 2014 and is now the largest food truck commissary in the Southeast, having played a role in launching more than 40 food trucks.

PREP has also helped in the start-up of 110 locally produced food products and more than 30 catering and prepared meal companies in Atlanta.

Among the local food businesses who got their start at PREP are Bellina Alimentari and Nine Mile Station. Both companies worked out of PREP for training and menu development prior to opening in Ponce City Market. Other names from Atlanta’s food scene who used PREP as a starting point include Refuge Coffee Company, Wanderlust Coffee, Queen of Cream, Emerald City Bagels, Verdant Kitchens, Real Meal Delivery, Sifted, Homespun ATL and Harvest Soul.

“The story of PREP Atlanta, to me, is the story of the companies we help,” Jaffe said. “They came to PREP in their infancy and we helped accelerate them.”

prep-food-truck-kitchens prep atlanta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article was written by Ligaya Figueras and is in the Atlanta Journal Constitution – Read original article Click Here

Read about PREP II Click Here

See PREP Atlanta Member testimonials Click Here

PREP Atlanta is a platform for Atlanta’s creative food entrepreneurs to achieve their aspirations in this local food centric area. Consumers want to see lists of ingredients that they can pronounce.  Many producers started after making products in their homes for family members with specific dietary restrictions. Word spread about these wonderful products and a business was born.

If you are ready to launch your food business, or accelerate your business to the next level, PREP is the place for you.  Give Michele a call @ 404-920-4150 Today!

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO OUR EMAIL UPDATE LIST

PREP Cook-Create-Connect is a fully licensed unique shared kitchen concept. Established with one goal in mind
to help build and support small food businesses in Metro Atlanta.
PREP provides state-of-the-art commercial shared kitchen space, test kitchens resources, food procurement and guidance to a talented and creative class of entrepreneurs.
These are specialty food producers, baker, caterers and mobile food service operators, along with the next generation of food artisans. PREP is a privately held company based in Atlanta, GA.
For more information about PREP please call (404) 920-4150
or visit www.PREPatl.com    PREP on Facebook – PREP on Twitter – Truck & Tap – Atlanta Food Truck Catering

Did you know that the more than 50 pieces of artwork that line the walls of PREP are by our very own JR Santos! Take a look at his website Jr’s Abstract Art for sale in Atlanta – Jr’s Abstract Art on Facebook

 

Atlanta’s Next Culinary Entrepreneur – We Have a Winner!

PREP Essay Contest Winner

Atlanta’s Next Culinary Entrepreneur

Jasmine Simone – Everything Vegan – Products with Purpose

PREP Essay Contest Winner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a pleasure to meet Jasmine today and find out the rest of the story about the wonderful products.  Rich and delicious,  the “cheese” that was sampled was amazing.  One of the best parts of what we do is the “taste testing”.  Jasmine shared that she has been carrying this idea around for years.  Lots of development and tasting has happened.  Now with the help of the pro services included in the Essay Contest package, perfection is going to be a reality.

JR had the pleasure of making the phone call and hearing the anxious excitement when saying that he was calling from PREP.  The flow of emotions from Jasmine was evident, from the laughing, crying and screaming as the reality that his long awaited dream was about to come true!

Here are some excerpts from Jasmine’s winning essay:

“The guests were amazed that they could enjoy plant-based meals and not feel as if something was missing. They were very surprised that the “cheese” in the dishes was made entirely from plant sources and contained no dairy. We exclaimed “Anything you can make, I can make vegan”!

Essay Contest Winner

 

“After much experimentation, we whipped up a creamy, knees-buckling, eyes roll-back-in- your-head cheesy sauce to use in the plant-based versions of the meals”

“Our unique, patentable recipes will be the answer people are looking for. They are nut-free, so it is school-safe; diary free, so lactose intolerable people will enjoy; plant-based, so they are a healthy choice; and most importantly – taste amazing.“

“Our unique, patentable recipes will be the answer people are looking for. They are nut-free, so it is school-safe; diary free, so lactose intolerable people will enjoy; plant-based, so they are a healthy choice; and most importantly – taste amazing.“

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The world of vegan cheese has gotten so tasty that word is getting out, which means sales are going up. To be exact, they were up 22.7 percent in 2014 which translates to $30 million in sales.”

“Connected to the concept and practice of social responsibility and have an interest in green/eco-friendly lifestyle, eating clean, organic, vegan, vegetarian”

Stay tuned for the rest of the story!

A special thanks to everyone who submitted their essays.  There are so many ideas that are just ready to come to market, and the choice was a difficult one to make.

PREP thanks our sponsors for helping to make this dream a reality!

ACityDiscount – AcityDiscount.com –  Facebook
Barcode Warehouse –  BarCodeWarehouse.biz – Facebook
Byte Into It Web/Video – ByteIntoIt.com – Facebook
Prager Law – PragerLaw.us – Facebook
Georgia Restaurant Association – GaRestaurants.org – Facebook
Bennett Graphics – BennettGraphics.com – Facebook
Gordon Food Service – www.gfs.com – Facebook
Blue Hominy Public Relations – BlueHominy.com – Facebook
Georgia Grown – GeorgiaGrown.com – Facebook
Access To Capital for Entrepreneurs – Aceloans.org – Facebook
Eagle Food Service Training – EagleFoodServiceTraining.com
Fetch  – Fetch.com – Facebook

 

What is PREP? 

Based in Atlanta, GA, PREP supports, provides resources for, and serves as the food production home to a rising class of culinary entrepreneurs in the Southeast. PREP features state-of-the-art, commercial-quality, shared kitchen dedicated production spaces, food business growth resources, procurement, and hands-on guidance to specialty food producers, chefs, bakers, caterers, food trucks, and the next generation of food artisans. Find out more at www.PREPatl.com

Read about PREP’s Expansion Click Here

PREP Cook-Create-Connect is a fully licensed unique shared kitchen concept. Established with one goal in mind to help build and support small food businesses in Metro Atlanta.
PREP provides state-of-the-art commercial shared kitchen space, test kitchens resources, food procurement and guidance to a talented and creative class of entrepreneurs.
These are specialty food producers, baker, caterers and mobile food service operators, along with the next generation of food artisans. PREP is a privately held company based in Atlanta, GA.
For more information about PREP please call (404) 920-4150
or visit www.PREPatl.com    PREP on Facebook – PREP on Twitter – Truck & Tap – Atlanta Food Truck Catering

Did you know that the more than 50 pieces of artwork that line the walls of PREP are by our very own JR Santos! Take a look at his website Jr’s Abstract Art for sale in Atlanta – Jr’s Abstract Art on Facebook

Essay Contest – Atlanta’s Next Culinary Adventurer – Win a PREP Membership

Membership Essay Contes

Specialty Food Producer  Essay Contest
Atlanta’s Next Culinary Adventurer

PREP Essay Contest

Win a culinary entrepreneur package worth  $9000.00

PREP Cook Create Connect—Atlanta’s food business accelerator and unique shared kitchen facility—invites all of our soon-to-be-famous creative foodie folks to join our essay contest and share their stories! You are the ones who bring that delicious dish or item to gatherings, potlucks, and parties, and keep hearing from friends that you need to start a business and sell it.

You have dreams of being culinary entrepreneurs but find that there is very little support and information on how to get started. This is your chance to start your company! The only rule? Your food product should be an idea that can be permitted under the Georgia Department of Agriculture and contain less than 3% meat!

The writer of the winning essay, hosted by prep, will receive the following:

PREP Cook Create Connect Department of Agriculture Membership $5,050.00
(including guidance with regulations and permitting)
• PREP assistance with Social Media & Search engine marketing & SEO $250.00
• Business development session with PREP Director of Operations – $275.00
• Prager Law – Consultation on branding/trademark search – $1000.00
• ACityDiscount Credit for small wares and utensils – $500.00
• Barcode Warehouse label design/printing – $500.00
• Georgia Restaurant Association – 1 year membership – $350.00
• Bennett Graphics packaging design/printing – $200.00
• Gordon Food Service Credit for food products – $200.00
• Session working with Gordon Foods Chef to develop and perfect the recipe
• Blue Hominy Public Relations 1 hour consultation $150.00
• Georgia Grown 1 year Membership $150.00
• Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs to be used for AG Permitting – $150.00
• Eagle Training Resources ServSafe training class $150.00
• Session with a SCORE business Mentor

Essay Contest win a PREP membership

To find out more about the essay contest, go to www.PREPatl.com/essay

 

PREP Cook-Create-Connect is a fully licensed unique shared kitchen concept. Established with one goal in mind
to help build and support small food businesses in Metro Atlanta.
PREP provides state-of-the-art commercial shared kitchen space, test kitchens resources, food procurement and guidance to a talented and creative class of entrepreneurs.
These are specialty food producers, baker, caterers and mobile food service operators, along with the next generation of food artisans. PREP is a privately held company based in Atlanta, GA.
For more information about PREP please call (404) 920-4150
or visit www.PREPatl.com    PREP on Facebook – PREP on Twitter – Truck & Tap – Atlanta Food Truck Catering – Essay Contest

Did you know that the more than 50 pieces of artwork that line the walls of PREP are by our very own JR Santos! Take a look at his website Jr’s Abstract Art for sale in Atlanta – Jr’s Abstract Art on Facebook

Amazing Food Show – PREP & Gordon Food Service

PREP Gordon Food Service

Food Show with PREP & Gordon Food Service working together to bring this wonderful event to Atlanta!

Mitch Long and Julie D’Amico set up a food truck park outside of the Cobb Galleria, with Island Chef Cafe, Espetada and Tasting Maine giving out free samples!

PREP Shared Kitchens, Commissary Kitchens, Food Truck Catering, Food Truck Kitchens, Catering Kitchens
There were phenomenal food displays at the Gordon Food Show, located at hundreds of stations, Everything imagineable from Apples to Zucchini!
PREP Shared Kitchens, Commissary Kitchens, Food Truck Catering, Food Truck Kitchens, Catering Kitchens
There were training sessions, Chef demonstrations and tons of resources at the Gordon Food Show
PREP Shared Kitchens, Commissary Kitchens, Food Truck Catering, Food Truck Kitchens, Catering Kitchens

What a wonderful way to spend the day, take a look at some video from the show:

Have you been to see Julie D’Amico demonstrating wonderful food products and techniques on Thursdays at 1:30 @ PREP!

“Thrive Thursday” is an opportunity for me to cook up a few Gordon ingredients in the PREP kitchens to help share our product lines, inspire new trending or seasonal menu ideas and introduce our broker community–it’s a chance to share space and conversations with a variety of customers, learn more about their business and the types of products or ideas they might find interesting.  This time is invaluable for Gordon and PREP to continue our partnership and explore new ideas in the kitchen. Each Thursday looks a little bit different and it’s exciting to talk about new imported olive oils, applications for dips and sauces, Spring sandwich ideas, trending flatbreads–the list is endless and the conversation time is priceless.

Take a look at this video:

Gordon Food Service Website www.GFS.com

What is PREP? 

Based in Atlanta, GA, PREP supports, provides resources for, and serves as the food production home to a rising class of culinary entrepreneurs in the Southeast. PREP features state-of-the-art, commercial-quality, shared kitchen dedicated production spaces, food business growth resources, procurement, and hands-on guidance to specialty food producers, chefs, bakers, caterers, food trucks, and the next generation of food artisans. Find out more at www.PREPatl.com

Read about PREP’s Expansion Click Here

PREP Cook-Create-Connect is a fully licensed unique shared kitchen concept. Established with one goal in mind to help build and support small food businesses in Metro Atlanta.
PREP provides state-of-the-art commercial shared kitchen space, test kitchens resources, food procurement and guidance to a talented and creative class of entrepreneurs.
These are specialty food producers, baker, caterers and mobile food service operators, along with the next generation of food artisans. PREP is a privately held company based in Atlanta, GA.
For more information about PREP please call (404) 920-4150
or visit www.PREPatl.com    PREP on Facebook – PREP on Twitter – Truck & Tap – Atlanta Food Truck Catering

Did you know that the more than 50 pieces of artwork that line the walls of PREP are by our very own JR Santos! Take a look at his website Jr’s Abstract Art for sale in Atlanta – Jr’s Abstract Art on Facebook

Food truck creates jobs for Refugees in Clarkston!

Refuge food truck creates jobs
PREP Atlanta is proud that Refuge Coffee Truck operates out of our facility!

This Food Truck Serves Up Gourmet Food And Drinks — And Jobs For Refugees

Anjali Enjeti for NPR (click here for article)

 

Refuge Coffee is a nonprofit gourmet food truck that employees refugees resettled in Clarkston, Ga., and provides job training and networking opportunities within the community.

On a bright, blustery October morning in Clarkston, Ga., the sweet aroma of baked treats and brewing coffee flows out the windows of the fire engine-red food truck known as Refuge Coffee Co. parked at a street corner. A dozen or so eager customers mill about, converse and gradually fall into line.

Chalkboard signs announce the menu: latte, cappuccino, chai latte, espresso and hot chocolate, as well as a soda of the day, iced matcha latte, and a “shakerato” (espresso with simple syrup, shaken, over ice). For breakfast seekers, croissants, muffins, morning buns and scones await. Wedges of tomato and goat cheese quiche, crunchy Nepali chatpate and savory sambusa (triangle pastries stuffed with lentils) are readied for the lunch crowd.

Three refugee-baristas are buzzing about inside the truck. Amina Ahyaoui, 32, arrived from Casablanca, Morocco, in 2014. Tha Hlei Iang, 31, is from the Chin state in Myanmar. She spent four years in Malaysia with her husband and daughter before they made their way to Clarkston in 2011. Ahmad Alzoukani, 31, is a pharmacist from Damascus, Syria. He came to Clarkston in September of last year.

 

(Left to right) Ahmad Alzoukani, Tha Hlei Iang, Ndahimwa Leon Shombana and Amina Ahyaoui all came to Clarkston, Ga., as resettled refugees and embody the town’s international vibe.

Though Iang and Ahyaoui are trainees who only began working at Refuge Coffee a few weeks ago, they pour and stir and make change like seasoned professionals. Iang laughs when she says she doesn’t even drink coffee or tea, just juice and water. Ahyaoui loves coffee, but enjoys socializing with the customers more. Alzoukani, who has been with Refuge Coffee for a little over a year, is quick to point out his specialty. “I make the best cappuccinos,” he says.

The truck sits in a parking lot in front of a garage that once belonged to a used car dealership. Some customers take their orders to go or sit outside at tables. Others meander to the cozy cafe space inside the garage. Red and turquoise tables and plush sofas offer customers plenty of space for dining, communing or taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi.

Shortly after noon, 43-year-old Ndahimwa Leon Shombana, Refuge Coffee’s manager since May, makes his way to the garage with the purposeful gait of the high school teacher he once was. He checks in with other staff and will soon begin his shift on the truck. Shombana, who arrived in Clarkston in November 2012, hails from the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ahyaoui, Iang, Alzoukani,and Shombana embody Clarkston’s international vibe. In the 1990s, the U.S. State Department deemed this northeast suburb 11 miles from downtown Atlanta, with its low cost of living and easy access to public transportation, an ideal location for refugee resettlement. Some 13,000 residents call Clarkston’s 1.4 square miles home. Half are foreign-born — most of them, like the employees at Refuge Coffee, are refugees. They come from everywhere from Afghanistan, Bhutan and Burma, to Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and, more recently, Syria.

None of the baristas spoke English when they arrived in the U.S. They take tuition-free, English-as-a-second-language classes at Georgia Piedmont Technical College. Learning the language has become their highest priority. “Imagine people who come to this country without a word of English,” says Shombana. “That person cannot express himself. That person is not free.”

 

A sign outside the Refuge Coffee food truck says “Welcome” in (top to bottom) Amharic, Somali, Swahili, Arabic, Sudanese, Vietnamese and Nepali.

 

Alzoukani agrees. “What I discovered when I came here was that without language, you can not work. With language, you can do anything.”

Today, Refuge Coffee employs two full-time and three part-time staffers, as well as four full-time barista trainees. The red truck is permanently stationed in front of the garage — it’s open six days a week, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Alzoukani, who insists Atlanta traffic is much milder than traffic in the Middle East, drives the second truck — used for catering — to weddings, corporate events and even movie sets in the greater Atlanta area. On the set of the HBO movie Confirmation in July 2015, actress Kerry Washington, who starred as Anita Hill, thanked Refuge Coffee on Instagram for serving the cast and crew.

Income from sales covers only half of Refuge Coffee’s current operating costs, with private donations and grants making up the rest. Though the Refuge Coffee team hopes to generate more sales in the future, it is currently facing a more dire issue — location.

When the used car lot went out of business, the property on which Refugee Coffee is located went into foreclosure. Refuge Coffee must vacate the premises by Dec. 1 or purchase the property with funds it hopes to raise in a crowd-sourcing campaign (click here to support Refuge coffee)

Shombana remains optimistic, though. With the support of the community of Clarkston, “the future of Refuge Coffee,” he says, “is bright.”


Anjali Enjeti is an award-winning essayist, journalist and literary critic based in Atlanta.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO OUR EMAIL UPDATE LIST

WATCH FOR OUR ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT OUR HUGE EXPANSION!

PREP Cook-Create-Connect is a fully licensed unique shared kitchen concept. Established with one goal in mind
to help build and support small food businesses in Metro Atlanta.
PREP provides state-of-the-art commercial shared kitchen space, test kitchens resources, food procurement and guidance to a talented and creative class of entrepreneurs.
These are specialty food producers, baker, caterers and mobile food service operators, along with the next generation of food artisans. PREP is a privately held company based in Atlanta, GA.
For more information about PREP please call (404) 920-4150
or visit www.PREPatl.com    PREP on Facebook – PREP on Twitter – Truck & Tap – Atlanta Food Truck Catering

Find Locally Produced Specialty Foods – Candler Park Market

Atlanta Local Food Products

Local Specialty Foods made and sold in Atlanta!

PREP Atlanta removes the barriers to entry for entrepreneurs who want to start a specialty food business!

Today I had the pleasure to meet with Greg Hutchins and Robin Santos at Candler Park Market.

Recently I sent a request to Greg, one of the owners of the market asking for some time to get some advice and opinions on how a grocer feels about local specialty food products. I wanted to learn what they are looking for when selecting the right foods for the market.

My goal was to gain a better understanding so I could share this information with PREP Members.  I was thrilled when Greg wanted to know about PREP.  I could go on all day, however Robin actually gave a wonderful description of what we do here. being in the specialty food business herself!

Joining us was April Dubois with Mixte Cuisine.  April produces a wonderful artisanal flavored Ghee at PREP.

When going to the Market, I already knew that they have the best Deli sandwiches around! Mitch and Michele Jaffe, Partners at PREP visit the market often.

mixte cuisine locally produced specialty foods Ghee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greg and Robin shared with me that they love to choose local products.  Here are the to 6 areas that all local specialty food producers must be aware of in order to be successful.

 

  1. Consistency of product is most important.  Customers expect to buy the exact same product every time.
  2. Pricing must be realistic.  No doubt that producers want to make money, however keep in mind that purveyors need to make a profit in order to keep their stores open.  Producers can’t take the price they sell their products and expect the store to add on top of that.  If that small jar of delights ends up with a retail price of 18.00, it may never leave the shelves.
  3. Communication is the key.  Many people approach the stores with a wonderful product or idea, then are never heard from again.  Make sure you can not only run your production, but make plans to have help so you can do the marketing and follow up that is required.
  4. Consistent business operations are a must.  Set up great systems for communication with markets, calling the stores, receiving orders and fulfilling orders.  No shop owner wants to have to tell a customer that they don’t have the product today, and don’t know when it will be in. (Greg shared a story of a product that was promised last Friday. No delivery or communication 6 days later.
  5. How about some dedication?  Many small producers start out at Farmers Markets, then grow to local markets, then hopefully hit the big time.  When you go big time, don’t forget the retailers that supported you in the early days.  Make sure those who supported you early on are always well taken care of.   Karma is a really good thing!
  6. Be serious about building your business.  A hobbyist probably won’t be picked up by stores.  Producers have to have skin in the game.  Markets want to deal with professional folks who are looking to grow a serious business.  If you are starting a small business and want it to grow, it takes 110% of your time and focus.
  7. Be serious about your product.  Packaging and labeling are what sell products. Be unique and don’t skimp on great design.

Please go by and support local producers while you check out Candler Park Market.  Be sure to thank Greg and Robin for sharing a wealth of knowledge with us!

Candler Park Market – 1642 Mclendon Avenue – Atlanta, GA 30317 – 404-373-9787

Any markets looking for wonderful local specialty foods, call PREP @ 404-920-4150

Check out Mixte Cuisine. Be sure and get some of this soon to be famous Ghee!

mixte cuisine locally produced specialty food products Ghee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.MixteCuisine.com

 

Samples left at the market included PREP Producers

Salsa Sol Del RioGeorgia Sourdough CrackersEat Happy GranolaHampton Salt Mighty Bucha – The Dessert Place – Phoenix Green Foods

 

Atlanta Local Specialty Food Products

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mixte Cuisine  –  Candler Park Market –  PREP Members

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PREP Cook-Create-Connect is a fully licensed unique shared kitchen concept. Established with one goal in mind
to help build and support small food businesses in Metro Atlanta.
PREP provides state-of-the-art commercial shared kitchen space, test kitchens resources, food procurement and guidance to a talented and creative class of entrepreneurs.
These are specialty food producers, baker, caterers and mobile food service operators, along with the next generation of food artisans. PREP is a privately held company based in Atlanta, GA.
For more information about PREP please call (404) 920-4150
or visit www.PREPatl.com    PREP on Facebook – PREP on Twitter – Truck & Tap – Atlanta Food Truck Catering