Zeppelin Development Partners with Non-Profit Focus Points with Opening of Comal

Zeppelin Development_Comal Opening

Denver, CO –  The newest addition to Zeppelin Development’s TAXI community in the River North Arts District (RiNo) – Comal, a heritage food incubator – is now open for lunch. In partnership with non-profit Focus Points Family Resource Center, Comal will provide women entrepreneurs from the underserved neighborhoods of Globeville, Elyria and Swansea (GES) with culinary arts, business and language skills, in addition to serving up some of the most authentic Latin American cuisine in Denver, with a focus on returning to traditional methods of cooking.

“With the boom in development in the GES neighborhoods, many of the long-time residents are facing displacement because of rising rents and property taxes,” said Mickey Zeppelin, founder of the TAXI community and principal at Zeppelin Development. “The goal of Focus Points is to provide these low-income families with the economic stability to stay in their communities, making them an ideal partner for our social endeavors.”

Slavica Park, director of economic and workforce development at Focus Points, said, “In the spirit of integration, Comal will help bridge the gap between neighborhoods that are literally adjacent to each other but worlds apart. Since food transcends all barriers in bringing people together, we hope to begin to shift the dynamic by offering classes led by the entrepreneurs to teach the community about cooking, culture and history.”

The inaugural group is made up of 15 entrepreneurs, who came together through door-to-door community organizing efforts by Focus Points’ staff and a shared interest in culinary arts more than a year prior to their home base being established at TAXI.

Each Comal cohort will be incubated for an eight-month cycle, with the goal of providing them with the skills to open their own businesses. Following a “learning while earning” model, a custom curriculum will teach entrepreneurs skills in marketing, financial literacy, computers and English, as well as culinary arts. The program caters to the unique dynamics of low-income families by allowing the participants the freedom to make their own schedules. In addition to lunch service, the Comal group will provide off-site catering, with 60 percent of all revenues going to paying the women for their work and 40 percent covering their operational and educational costs.

Tim Bender is Comal’s executive chef, providing the cohort with instruction in the areas of ingredient sourcing, safe cooking, presentation, timing and all other ins-and-outs of running a restaurant, catering and cooking in a commercial kitchen. Previously, Bender served as Chef de Cuisine at Chinook Tavern, opening Sous Chef at Blackbird Public House and Sous Chef at Black Pearl Restaurant. He also had a long-term stage (a culinary apprenticeship) at the cult-followed SPQR Restaurant in San Francisco.

Image courtesy of Zeppelin Development

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