WOBURN — City Council recently sanctioned a Mississippi-based foodservice provider’s proposal to replace vacant tenant positions at an Olympia Avenue warehouse with two commercial catering companies.
At their last meeting at City Hall, the Board unanimously agreed to issue a special permit to Trio Community Meals, LLC and Corporate Chefs, LLC to take over substantially all of a 78 700 square feet at 39 Olympia Avenue. Depending on the vote, the petitioners will be allowed to increase the number of commercial vans parked overnight at the site from 20 to 28 vehicles.
Given that the two businesses are essentially replacing an almost identical restoration operation, the council ultimately concluded that the new tenants would cause no substantial impact on the surrounding neighborhood, which contains a handful of trucking depots and other industrial uses that generate commercial vehicle traffic.
“I know we haven’t had a chance to discuss it in committee, but [the petitioner’s lawyer] and I spent time on [these petitions]. I make no exception to them,” said Ward 5 Councilor Darlene Mercer-Bruen, whose ward includes the Olympia Avenue corridor.
Last month, local attorney Joseph Tarby, representing the two petitioners, explained that the companies’ parent company, Mississippi-based Elior, had recently shut down Preferred Meals, the Illinois-based commercial catering company that had originally taken over the Olympia Avenue warehouse in 2021.
To fill the building vacancy, Elior is offering to move in with new tenants Trio Community Meals LLC, which, like Preferred Meals, is focused on providing food and cafeteria services to school and senior populations.
“They took over from former tenant Preferred Meals Systems. They will operate the same business as Preferred Meals offering [prepared food] older people and school systems. The only thing that changes is that they are looking to increase the number of overnight parking lots [spaces on the property] 20 to 28 vans,” Tarby reiterated during the council’s last discussion around the special permit requests.
Corporate Chefs, which will move its offices from Salem Street to the Olympia Avenue site, will also run its vending machine business from the East Woburn property, which contains a total of 9.59 acres.
In addition to using approximately 10,000 square feet of storage space in the building for food ingredients and other supplies, Corporate Chefs will also create a food prep area in the building where “sandwiches and salads for vending machines which it has in its various cafeterias”.
“There was 17,540 square feet of space that was not rented [previously at this building] and Corporate Chefs is a related company that would like to move into this space,” Tarby explained.
Corporate Chefs received a special permit to park up to seven commercial vans on the Olympia Avenue property, which would contain 162 parking spaces once site improvements are complete.
According to council action, the 24 conditions that were previously attached to the 2020 Special Permit for Preferred Meal Systems will carry over to new tenants. Each of the catering companies are also required to register all of their commercial vehicles in the town of Woburn.