In 2012, when Anne Little wanted to create a soup cart, she couldn’t find a commercial kitchen that met her needs. After talking with other cooks and the Health Dept. and visiting a few less-than-optimal kitchens she and her husband, Pat, realized that what Missoula really needed was good commercial kitchen space (and maybe a soup cart). They started looking for a location and found a building that met several criteria including having the commercial zoning they needed. Working just ahead of the Missoula building boom they managed to open the doors right after Thanksgiving of 2014.
The space was remodeled to house 2 kitchens, a work space, cleaning area, loading area, and coffee shop (Sunrise Coffee Shop), which for 2 years served the best espresso in Missoula. Of course, the kitchens had to be named Moonlight Kitchens. The location, while great for the kitchens, didn’t have enough foot traffic to support the coffee shop and it closed the end of 2016. That space is now available for a variety of uses including meetings, dinners, and classes.
In 2015 Moonlight Kitchens applied for and got a “Growth through Agriculture” (GTA) grant from the state of Montana which allowed us to install an 8’×12’ walk-in cooler and high-temp dishwasher both of which increased the efficiency and usability of the kitchens thus reducing the cost to the cooks. Moonlight Kitchens continues to look for ways to help our cooks succeed and currently offers several classes and events during the year to expose new cooks and the general public to our facility and the local food system in Missoula.
The mission of Moonlight Kitchens is to connect our farmers with our neighbors through our cooks, and to run a triple bottom line business (people, profit, planet). This means we work with, and donate to, related local non-profit food organizations, encourage our cooks to use our recycling facilities, provide our cooks with information and access to local food suppliers, and facilitate their process of creating viable food businesses.
Anne, originally from Seattle, has worked in food co-ops since the ’70s, has run several small businesses, and currently helps keep the Five Valley Seed Library going. She’s a former board member of MUD (Missoula Urban Demonstration Project) and a current member/owner of the Missoula Community Food Co-op. She and Pat have lived in Missoula since 2009.
Pat’s background is in engineering. Originally from the UK, he’s worked for several large aerospace companies and most recently was employed by The Nature Conservancy doing computer support work. He’s served on the Missoula Planning Board and currently manages the Five Valleys Audubon website. He’s also a co-op member/owner.