Open Arms


St. Paul, MN

Equipment Supply & Installation

In 1986, Bill Rowe saw a need in his community. His neighbors were suffering from AIDS and unable to cook for themselves, so he made meals and delivered them. What started out as a small operation in one man’s apartment grew to a large nonprofit organization which now serves thousands of meals a week to critically ill people in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota.

Kinley Hotel bar

In January 2023 a second production facility opened in St. Paul to increase the organization's reach. This 17,000 square foot facility with a 7,800 square foot kitchen complements the location in Minneapolis.

Boelter served as the equipment supplier for the new Open Arms facility, working hand in hand with the design team of Rippe Associates to provide the best possible work place for staff and volunteers to cook, assemble and get meals ready for delivery.

Equipment Experts

Boelter brings more to each project than just finding the best price on equipment for each client. “We have a reputation in the industry thanks to our ability to keep with a project’s timeframes and install the job properly, which is what helped us win this project,” says Todd Olson, project manager. “In addition, we have worked with the team at Rippe for many years, so we went into the Open Arms job with a good understanding from each side on how to work together to get things accomplished for the client.”

The main goal for the new facility was to expand Open Arms’ production capacity. The kitchen would need to accommodate around 45 full-time staff working in the food production and prep areas, as well as space for about 100 volunteers on site daily to handle meal assembly and delivery. All together they make around 2,500 meals per day in the new St. Paul location, in addition to the nearly 1,800 meals produced in Minneapolis.

In order to meet that demand, the new kitchen includes plenty of storage space and prep equipment, as well as a production kitchen equipped for flexibility and high volume. Highlights of the equipment for this project include:

  • 1,300 square foot walk-in freezer
  • 4 walk-in coolers totaling nearly 900 square feet
  • 3 tilt skillets
  • 3 blast chillers
  • 2 four-burner ranges
  • Roasting rack oven
  • Convection oven
  • Roll-in combi oven
  • Charbroiler
  • Double-sided work table

Rising to the Challenge

Having the Boelter team on the job helped mitigate the few issues that arose before they were able to affect the flow of the project. “For one, we were supplying and installing the equipment during a time when the industry faced supply chain challenges and pricing was going up constantly,” Olson says. “We were able to leverage our relationships in the industry to hold pricing to our original quotes for this project.”

Another challenge came during installation. The building was an office building being renovated to serve as a production kitchen, so the original structure hadn’t been designed for the weight of large foodservice equipment. The weight of the combined refrigeration systems -- the freezer and four walk-in coolers -- was too much for the existing floor. Olson worked with the manufacturer to get a suitable floor installed to sufficiently support the equipment.

Click here to learn more about this project and how the new production kitchen is equipped to help Open Arms continue meeting the needs of critically ill citizens in its local community.


Read more about Todd Olson, and see some of his extensive project portfolio.

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