It’s not often that you can dine out and do a good deed at the same time, but Lulu’s Kitchen provides that opportunity. Opened in October, Lulu’s is located on the campus of St. Matthew’s House in East Naples. It contains a state-of-the-art restaurant with an 8,000-square-foot kitchen, a drive-through, and indoor seating for 65 at the Fresh Start Café. The new venture was made possible in part by a generous donation from the Holecek Family Foundation.
“This facility gives us the ability to consolidate all of our culinary operations under one roof,” says St. Matthew’s COO Steve Brooder. “We can cook for the café, run our Delicious by Design catering company, and provide all the mission meals for our residents and clients.”
The building is also home to the Culinary Training Program of Southwest Florida, a 16-week course administered by chef Sean Dietzel. Like many of his students (as well as restaurant manager Mary Beth Esposito), Dietzel has recovered from addiction with the help of St. Matthew’s House. Every dollar in profit goes directly to the work of St. Matthew’s, which feeds nearly 2,500 families each week and houses more than 300 people every night in its homeless shelters.
Lulu’s serves breakfast and lunch from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with the drive-through open at 6:30 a.m. Dietzel’s menu emphasizes healthy options such as avocado toast, a guacamole and egg bowl, and a house-made black bean burger. Burgers made from lamb and Black Angus beef are also available, as are salads, wraps, and daily specials.
“There aren’t a lot of places like ours to eat in East Naples,” says Brooder. “It’s really important to us to provide job training and skills so that people can move on to a better life.”