Lisa Smith, Director of Community Impact and Host of Intersections
The East Liberty and Larimar neighborhoods have experienced an urban renewal over the last decade since receiving the HUD Choice Neighborhood Grant. Updated housing, new retail businesses, and office space reflect the energy and evolution of the area. The next big change involves redeveloping the old Larimar School gymnasium and auditorium.
Several community groups are involved in planning the vision for The Celebration Hall of Larimar, including Catapult Greater Pittsburgh. Lachelle Bell, Director of Entrepreneurship for Catapult Greater Pittsburgh, discussed the vision for Celebration Hall with Lisa Smith during the special edition of KDKA’s Intersections.
She outlines Catapult Greater Pittsburgh’s mission to break the cycle of generational poverty and how the Celebration Hall project and Catapult’s Culinary program will help propel food entrepreneurs in the East End and Larimar communities.
Powering Culinary Entrepreneurs
Celebration Hall will create a culinary-focused event and gathering space in the East End for weddings, bar mitzvahs, and other special occasions. The initiative is paired with the Catapult Culinary Entrepreneurship program for small minority food-based businesses. Now in its third cohort, the program has seen exponential growth, fueled by the universal love of food.
“Celebration Hall will celebrate the careers of culinary entrepreneurs in a community they are part of. The project will help these culinary professionals reach their entrepreneurship pursuits and dreams, of owning a catering business, operating a food truck, or even working as an event designer.”Lachelle Bell, Director of Entrepreneurship for Catapult Greater Pittsburgh
Catapult Culinary is designed as a business accelerator to assist business owners in starting or expanding food business operations. It provides participants with the tools they need to succeed in the food industry. The goal is to grow, develop, and incubate entrepreneurship opportunities for food businesses.
Serving the East End and Larimar Communities
The community has been at the forefront of this project. Here, culinary professionals can realize their dreams of launching catering services, food trucks, or event planning businesses—right in the heart of the community they serve.
Through the Catapult Culinary program, participants will have access to business mentors to guide them on early-stage business growth. “The Catapult Culinary program has grown leaps and bounds,” says Bell. “Celebration Hall will help us add more program participants who share a vision to bring nutritious, high-quality food to people in the East End and Larimar communities.”
The Celebration Hall of Larimar will serve as a financially self-sustaining gathering place, event center, and hub for food-related business development. It will provide entrepreneurial development opportunities that support local food-related businesses.
An Innovative Gathering Space
The community wanted to do something that celebrated community life and brought people together. The former gymnasium is set to transform into a demonstration kitchen, culinary education center, and first-class catering kitchen where chefs and nutritionists will mentor culinary entrepreneurs from the community on the art of healthy cooking. The auditorium space will cater to both formal and informal dining experiences, hosting events that celebrate life’s milestones.
As we witness the transformation of the old Larimer School into a vibrant Celebration Hall, we see a community’s aspirations taking physical form. This project, deeply rooted in the community’s input, celebrates the power of bringing people together. The space will maintain the historical features and charm of the area while adding the latest technology, kitchen equipment, and event center amenities.
Learn more about the old Larimar school and the renovation story behind The Celebration Hall of Larimar by viewing Part 1 of the Intersections program.
Meet the Partners
Catapult Greater Pittsburgh, in partnership with Food 21 and other community-based organizations, are empowering food entrepreneurs to succeed. This project will help grow, develop, and incubate food businesses, particularly in Pittsburgh’s black and brown communities. These partner organizations are inspired to make a difference. Their partnership has made The Celebration Hall of Larimar community-based vision come to life.
Building Paths to Economic Empowerment
The staff and advisors working on the Celebration Hall project possess a remarkable blend of talent and focus, backed by extensive expertise and experience. Food experts, small business accelerator experts, developers, technology experts, and hands-on food business operators provide the support and training essential to grow a food business.
Coaching and mentoring are essential resources for men and women starting new food ventures. The Catapult Culinary program is an established food entrepreneur accelerator, working with dozens of entrepreneurs through the Food 21 Food & Beverage network. Our entrepreneurship programs aim to build economic empowerment and break generational poverty in the city of Pittsburgh.
Learn more about our programs and how they help our community members build paths to homeownership and entrepreneurialism.