Anchorage’s largest soup kitchen looks to temporarily move food prep downtown

A building with the letters LED in front
L.E.D. Ultra Lounge and Grill pictured on May 28, 2021 (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage’s largest soup kitchen is looking to temporarily move its food production facility to a new building in the center of downtown. 

Bean’s Cafe Director Lisa Sauder said the kitchen identified the site of the Platinum Jaxx and LED Ultra Lounge on Sixth Ave. as a building it could purchase and use to make meals. Currently, Bean’s makes about 3,000 meals per day at its administrative office before delivering them to city shelters and other housing facilities. 

“The organization and I certainly really believe in downtown Anchorage. And we’re excited to be part of downtown, and to be part of the redevelopment of downtown Anchorage,” Sauder said. 

Sauder said she’s heard concerns from residents about the project. Over the past year, purchases of buildings for homelessness services in Anchorage have been very controversial. Sauder said she reached out to downtown organizations, which were supportive of the idea. Property owners shouldn’t worry, she said, since the site will only make meals to be distributed around town. 

“We don’t want people to think that we’re buying that property to put in a homeless shelter, or soup kitchen downtown, that is absolutely not the intent,” she said. “We have no interest in doing that. That’s not the location for it, it wouldn’t be good for downtown and it wouldn’t be good for our clients.”

The kitchen would only operate as a meal preparation site for about a year, as Bean’s prepares to permanently move to a building it’s remodeling in the Ship Creek area. The project is expected to be completed around September 2022, according to Sauder. 

But if the Sixth Ave. purchase is finalized, Sauder said, Bean’s is hoping to partner with the Anchorage Public Library, which has long sought a site for a downtown branch. 

“Potentially, there could be a market rate restaurant that could go into, you know, kind of complement the library, and be a cafe on the side,” she said. 

Bean’s is still working to finalize the sale.

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Lex Treinen covers culture, homelessness, politics and corrections for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at ltreinen@alaskapublic.org.