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Owner of food studio near George Floyd square says goal is to "keep this space sustainable"

Owner of food studio near George Floyd Square says goal is to “keep this space sustainable”
Owner of food studio near George Floyd Square says goal is to “keep this space sustainable” 03:14

MINNEAPOLIS -- A Twin Cities chef, educator, and business owner has become the newest owner of CityFoodStudio in South Minneapolis.

In February 2023, ownership transitioned from Journey Gosselin to Lachelle Cunningham, the owner of Chelle's Kitchen and Healthy Roots Institute (HRI). Cunningham supports new business development at the Neighborhood Development Center and has provided training, coaching, and consulting through HRI. Her relationship with CityFoodStudio started years ago. 

"What I like to think of as my first big debut event as a chef, in 2014 when I was just finishing culinary school, I used this kitchen space," Cunningham said. "I have a history with this community."

CityFoodStudio is located at 3722 Chicago Avenue, in George Floyd Square. Cunningham's ties to the neighborhood run deep.

"I grew up a lot in this neighborhood. I was born just a few blocks away from here, " Cunningham said. "My grandmother lived on 39th and Oakland. I was born on 38th and Oakland and then lived until I was three and then I moved to St. Paul. I am definitely a Twin Cities person. Then I would spend the summers…we would run up to these corner stores, we would play at Phelps Park…I just have connections into this community."

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It's a community that is still grappling with the murder of George Floyd three years later. For a time, Cunningham said it was challenging to step inside CityFoodStudio, because of its location in the space now known as George Floyd Square.

"When you know George Floyd was murdered, you know it was highly emotional for me," Cunningham said. "It was a struggle to step foot in this space for me because of all the history that I have."

Now, Cunningham said she's focused on keeping what Gosselin started 10 years ago sustainable. CityFoodStudio is a certified food safe, offering the same commercial equipment found in restaurants to anyone with a talent and passion for food.

When asked about the future, Cunningham shared her message.

"Keep this space sustainable. That's my biggest goal. Then, how can we use the space to empower the businesses that are here? That's the work that I do in Healthy Roots Institute with supporting entrepreneurs through training, through coaching, consulting," Cunningham said. " I want to continue to be able to build in that work in the businesses that are here, any businesses that want to come into the space and support that as much as possible, and then ultimately I want that to spread out into this community, which has been so greatly impacted since George Floyd left us."

Since 2014, more than 75 entrepreneurs have used CityFoodStudio to push their culinary dreams forward. Businesses that started in CityFoodStudio have included Junita's Jar, T-Rex Cookies, Rise Bagels, O'Cheeze, and many others.

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