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San Francisco Bayview Restaurateur Provides Community Support

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- A San Francisco businesswoman is making a difference in her Bayview neighborhood as it deals with a high concentration of coronavirus cases and a growing number of residents with food insecurity.

Kristin Houk is cooking up more than good food at her restaurants Tato, Cafe Alma and All Good Pizza.

"My idea in creating All Good Pizza was really to have a community-centric location that could support local nonprofits and entrepreneurs," she said of starting the first of her three eateries ten years ago.

Houk also champions entrepreneurs who are women and people of color. For years, she worked with a nonprofit to train and finance female business owners in Guatemala.

She has brought that mentorship model to her trio of restaurants in San Francisco's Bayview.

"I feel like that's my calling; a convener of ideas and resources," Houk said.

She has loaned her kitchens and restaurant space for free over the last decade to some 150 entrepreneurs, like baker Camisha Green.

Green, who owns Camisha's Cakes, has held holiday pop-ups at Cafe Alma. Houk's support is like ice cream frosting on her custom cakes.

"It's a great way to promote my own business in the community. But she's so generous with her time and knowledge," Green said.

Houk is also helping feed her neighborhood's most vulnerable in the pandemic.

She gave away more than 25,000 free meals last year as part of the SF New Deal community program that pays restaurants to feed low-income residents, especially those who test COVID-positive.

Houk has also allowed the African American Faith-Based Coalition to use Cafe Alma as a food pantry.

Coalition founder Veronica Shepard says the pantry's provided groceries to seven hundred households each week.

"Because of the space, we are able to keep people safe and fed," said Shepard. "She [Houk] has a heart for helping people and lifting people up."

For Houk, serving her community warms her heart.

"In the Bayview, specifically, there's an incredible sense of community and people who really do want to help each other," said Houk.

So for feeding the Bayview's most vulnerable residents and being a champion for women and ethnic minority business owners, this week's Jefferson Award in the Bay Area.

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