Farm to Plate: Artisan Food Business Grows the Old Fashioned Way

With help from a $3.3 million Industrial Development Express Bond, Classic Foods managed to reinvest in an inner city neighborhood, revitalize an historical ice house and grow their food processing company.

Classic Foods manufacturers and distributes primarily artisan, custom-made ravioli to restaurants, hotels and institutions in Oregon and Southwest Washington. But it also produces other artisan specialty items including its own line of herbs and spices as well as nuts and dried fruits and also distributes imported Mediterranean and Asian food products.

Company president and founder Jake Greenberg started the company 29 years ago with $1,006. Greenberg sources many of his ingredients personally from local organic farmers, such as Stahlbush Island Farms in Corvallis, or local farmers markets (he was one of the founders of the Hollywood Farmers Market in Portland). In early 2013, Greenberg said the company was on the verge of inking a deal to supply custom-made, fresh pasta products for a large, specialty grocer in Portland.

Thanks to the $3.3 million from Business Oregon's Industrial Development Express Bond program and the help from West Coast Bank, the company was able to purchase and turn a 50,000-square-foot, former ice house in Northeast Portland's Woodlawn neighborhood into a LEED-certified, food processing facility and company headquarters.

The company has been expanding since the recession and has increased its ranks from 23 to 30 employees. It also provides public meeting space for neighborhood non-profit groups and community organizations in its facility.

"To have that (Industrial Development Express Bond) available was absolutely invaluable to me," Greenberg told a state legislative committee in March 2013. "It will save us something in the range of one half million dollars in interest. It really makes funds available to us to expand in the future and that is very much my intention."