Gourmondo, a local business best known for making boxed lunches for corporate clients, was looking for “a really sophisticated level of talent” to lead the kitchen, says founder Alissa Leinonen. Particularly because the company is opening—today—its first public cafe, at 645 Elliott Ave W, in nearly 17 years. (Leinonen started her business as a short-lived four-table cafe, but has since been focusing on corporate cafes like the two currently at Amazon.)
Black—who’s been cooking locally for more than 20 years, most notably at Barking Frog and now-shuttered Restaurant Bea, and most recently at Bis on Main—started just last week, and will begin revamping Gourmondo’s catering selection, line of grocery items, and cafe menu. “This makes no sense in my career trajectory,” Black says, laughing. “I’m not going to say fine dining’s dead, but it is so limiting. It was time for something new.”
“It’s way harder to take a product, serve it in a compostable container, and make it taste good three hours after you make it,” Black says. “There’s a huge learning curve for me.”
Though the new Gourmondo cafe is in an office building, it’s designed to feel more like a cafe than a cafeteria. Stumptown coffee and baked goods—a few danishes made in-house, Mighty-O doughnuts, Le Fournil pastries—are served all day. From 10:30 on, a glass case is stocked with grab-and-go sandwiches, wraps, homemade soups, and salads, all made at Gourmondo’s commercial kitchen and delivered that day. Afternoons bring a shift to wine and beer and cheese trays.
Gourmondo catering can be ordered online, per usual, here. The cafe’s hours are weekdays from 7-5. Interbay parking is the worst, but Leinonen assured me that they’re working on getting a couple of dedicated spots—in the meantime, you can use the 15-minute spots out front.