Since the Wilmington Green Box mobile food cart first launched in the summer of 2016, business partners Jason Aviles and John Naughton had a community-focused business plan that veered from the norm.
Selling cold-pressed juices and fresh produce downtown was conceived as a solution to the food desert problem for city residents whose access to a supermarket was limited, especially without transportation.
Since then, they’ve opened a kiosk on Market Street and increased production of their fresh juices using borrowed equipment at Harvest House on Washington Street.
On Friday, Oct. 26, they, along with co-owner and Harvest House co-developer Angela Wagner, will open Green Box Kitchen on the corner of Market and Fourth streets. The all-plant-based breakfast and lunch spot will continue the company’s vision as a source of healthy food and drinks for the community.
Part of the vision from the start was to offer jobs for teens in the city, and Green Box Kitchen, which will have a staff of three adults, will continue to offer opportunities for youth with after-school jobs.
“This year has been awesome,” Aviles told Technical.ly. “We’ve trained and employed 15 teens at age 16 to 19 at 30 hours a week and a minimum of $10 an hour.”
Training for youth employees has been unique: The company partnered with Strive and Dual School to offer a five-day training session that incorporated design thinking with hands-on learning. The young employees make the cold-press juices, run the kiosk in the summer, and sell juices from two Green Box bikes outfitted with coolers throughout the neighborhoods.
The goal for 2020, Aviles said, was to employ at least 20 teens.
The new brick-and-mortar space, inside the colorful corner building, was completely unfinished when Green Box rented it, with concrete walls, no equipment and no bathroom. Renovations to the space were funded in part by a Community Resource Fund matching grant, which funded a third of the work; the landlord funded another third, and the company paid for the remaining third.
The company also received $30,000 in funding from a Funderbolt campaign last year; the crowdfunding platform helped them raise $15,000 from the community, which was matched by Capital One. That money went primarily toward new equipment, including a $10,000 cold-press juicer that now sits in Green Box Kitchen’s newly renovated kitchen.
“We met our goal with that campaign,” Aviles said.
The new space has a takeout counter and seating for 10, including six stools at a counter and two tables for two.
All of the artwork, including a front counter made by artist Rick Hildago, founder of RH Gallery and Studios in Hockessin, is local.
“This mural is all done by hand,” said Aviles, about the detailed mural art by Dan Fetters surrounding the company’s mission statement in the seating area. “He lives in Philly now, but would come down and do a little at a time.”
When you first walk in the door, one of the first things you see is a giant pair of colorful, produce-infused painted wings on the wall. The mural, which Aviles calls the “photo op fun wall,” was created by Smashed Label, whose distinctive mural art can be seen around the city, including the “Be the Light, Spread Love” mural in the Creative District, “Rooted in the Valley” on Monroe Street and electric boxes on the West Side.
Green Box Kitchen will have its ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, Oct. 25, from 12:15 to 1 p.m., with a limited menu available. On Saturday the 26th, there will be a block party hosted by Green Box and neighbor Jet Phynx Films.
The official grand opening will be Monday, Oct. 28. The full menu will include cold-pressed juices (of course), smoothies, bowls, salads, vegan sandwiches and breakfast options, including gluten-free waffles.
We can’t wait to officially open our doors and serve you deliciousness 😋🙌 For now take a virtual tour of our space and…