PORTLAND - If you've ever been in a New Seasons Market, you know how busy their kitchens can be -- and now they need more room.

The company is planning a new state-of-the-art central kitchen to serve all of it's current 12 stores, plus two more that are in the works.

The 33,000-square foot facility will be located in the former Tazo Tea headquarters location on Southeast 2nd.

This will be the company's first off-site kitchen. The idea has been in the works since 2007.

If we can take our top sellers that can handle more production, it frees us up in the store to take better care of our customers, said Pat Brown, Chief Operating Officer.

In addition to providing the grab-and-go meals and more everyday baked goods, it will also be a test kitchen for recipe development to expand menu options.

We can do a much better job with vegan, vegetarian recipes, there's an opportunity for us to look at how to serve the gluten-fee customer in a better way, so the kitchen will allow us to do all those things, said Brown.

The current in-store kitchens will continue to provide on-site baking of artisan breads, plus be able to provide increased customer service.

Construction of the central kitchen begins in February of next year and will be finish by next September.

Many of the 80 people it will take to run the kitchen will come from the existing stores.

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