By Anne Maertens
Two Tomatoes Catering
Owners: Cindy McKinny, Ana Jackson, Angela Lykins
Opening Date: May 16
Address: 1101 N. State St.
Phone: (360) 303-1463
Square footage: 1,000
For Cindy McKinny, part owner of Two Tomatoes Catering, learning how to cook her mother’s Italian dishes was a means to eating delicious meals.
“My mom was a fabulous cook, and I never had to lift a finger until I got married,” McKinny said. “And [then] I realized I really enjoyed eating my mom’s fabulous food and needed to figure out how to make it at home.”
For Ana Jackson, another of the three owners, her first memory of cooking is making apples with cinnamon for her father when she was 3 years old. At 15, she went to culinary school to receive a degree.
Jackson and McKinny have both taught cooking classes at Whatcom Community College for several years and after talking, they realized they shared a common dream of owning a catering business that specialized in ready-to-heat meals.
With strong ties to both of their heritages, both Jackson and McKinny share a connection to tomatoes as an essential ingredient to their dishes, hence the name, Two Tomatoes Catering.
Two Tomatoes offers five ready-to-heat entrées per week, which customers can order by Sunday and pick-up or have delivered on Wednesday. They change the menu weekly with about 20 different items, such as chile relleno casserole and manicotti with meatballs, each month, Jackson said.
Angela Lykins, the third owner, handles the business side of the company. She said Two Tomatoes is not only targeting working individuals who want to share a quality dinner with their families at home; she also sees it as an option for elderly people who no longer cook.
In addition to ready-to-heat meals, Two Tomatoes is a full-service kitchen catering office lunches, graduations and weddings. This summer, they have been cooking for Bellingham‘s Concerts in the Park series every Thursday night at Elizabeth Park where they serve about 150 meals a night.
McKinny said she believes that Bellingham is a good place for Two Tomatoes because the Bellingham community has an appreciation for local food that you don’t find in fast-paced cities like New York or Los Angeles.
“After teaching cooking classes here for the last 11 years, I really do think this is a market of people who like and appreciate good food,” McKinny said. “Our Farmers Market is a perfect example of people appreciating quality, local food.”
Two Tomatoes tries to buy as much of their ingredients as possible from local sources. For example, they buy all of their pasta from the Bellingham Pasta Co., which is located just below them in the same building.
They are currently renting the Masonic Lodge’s kitchen on State Street with hopes of one day being able to open their own store.
“In three months, we’d love to be turning out a hundred meals a week,” McKinny said. “[In] three years, we want to be in a storefront where you walk in and say, ‘I’ll take a small lasagna, and a Caesar salad and a loaf of your beautiful bread.’ So that’s the big growth plan.”
Disposable casserole pans are available, but Jackson and McKinny also prepare meals in customer’s personal dishes.
“You don’t have to tell people that you didn’t make it, we won’t tell,” McKinny said. “Provide us with a beautiful casserole dish, and no one will ever know.”