By: Jason Williams
The Whiteaker neighborhood is continuing its long tradition of pumping out business that have lofty dreams and a heavy dose of reality with the stomach in mind.
“The neighborhood has a Key West Vibe with a Northwest sensibility,” says Jimmy Evangelista, who chose the Whitaker neighborhood for his new business because of its vibrant culture, “There is so much energy and so much imagination going on here.”
It’s that imagination and energy that has brought to life Reality Kitchen. The brain child of Jimmy Evangelist, the kitchen is an eclectic mix of everything Eugene, it’s a Salad Bar, a vegetarian food cart, a free book exchange and neighborhood gathering spot that will open soon on bustling Van Buren street.
Evangelista sees the salad bar as an extension of what he has done for the past four years; serving as special-education teacher in Lane County. The kitchen will serve as training grounds for young adults with special needs that are seeking on the job skills and independence.
The food cart will be headed by local chef Max Schwartz, with vegetarian fare served alfresco style. All of the food will come from within a 50-mile radius of local growers.
“Also on the menu will be sweet potato fries, fruit and vegetable tempura and some of the finest local cuisine to come out of a food cart,” promises Envangelista in an email.
The entrepreneur got his start as a muralist in Gainesville, Florida where he owned a 24-hour restaurant with the same name.
“Running a restaurant is tough business,” says Evangelista, “this project brings my best skills forward.”
Those skills also include mural painting; Evangelista has painted several murals around town, including the large “Tuscany” mural at 12th and High.
Evangelista is hoping to get the community involved in his project with a mural he has outlined on the side of his building. It’s paint by numbers and he plans to have cans of paint ready for anyone who wants to pick up a brush during the Whiteaker Last Friday Artwalk at the end of August.
In addition to the food offerings and Evangelista’s art studio there will also be a free book exchange that will be modeled after his library booth from the Oregon Country Fair.
Evangelista hopes that Reality Kitchen can become a neighborhood gathering place where people come to learn, hang out and maybe grab a bite to eat.