La Cocina VA Expands Programming With a New Site at Gilliam Place. Vámonos!

APAH is thrilled to announce its long-time partner, La Cocina VA (LCVA), has opened a new training and entrepreneurship center and pop-up café, aptly called The Café, on the ground floor of Gilliam Place Apartments. LCVA is a nonprofit that runs a bilingual career training program in the hospitality industry serving immigrants, primarily women.

Until recently, the organization operated out of a church basement, training over a hundred culinary students and donating 20,000 hot, healthy meals across the County. Now that the café and training center is open, LCVA’s program has a new home base to grow their skills in the culinary arts and customer service. “I’m pleased Gilliam Place is the site of La Cocina VA’s new café and training program,” said Nina Janopaul, President and CEO of APAH. “It’s thrilling to see this long partnership journey come to fruition and know that La Cocina now has an expanded ability to serve low-income workers and the broader community.”

The finished space would not have been possible without the vision and determination of LCVA’s CEO, Paty Funegra. She founded the nonprofit seven years ago.

“The La Cocina VA’s low-barrier Training and Entrepreneurship Center (TEC) in the Columbia Pike corridor was brought to life during one of the hardest times in American history,” said Paty Funegra. “The pandemic not only exacerbated structural poverty for the ones already in vulnerable situations, but it also created situational poverty for the ones that couldn’t work due to lock downs and other restrictions. TEC aspires to become one of the strategic allies that will help our community recover from the crisis by providing entrepreneurship development opportunities, access to healthy meals for the ones in need, and access to jobs when the food service industry resumes hiring.”

CEO Paty Funegra and trainees are ready for opening day.

Over the last several years, APAH worked closely with the LCVA team to realize their vision for the retail space at Gilliam Place. APAH and LCVA have a long history of working together: several APAH residents have graduated from the culinary program and LCVA has donated hundreds of meals to our properties, improving access to prepared and healthy food.

“We’re excited to grow this partnership in serving the community,” said Janopaul. “The café adds to the vibrancy of Columbia Pike, and by the way – the food is fabulous!”

The Café is located at 3507 Columbia Pike. We hope to see you there for a coffee soon!

Read more about the La Cocina opening in Arlington Magazine.