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Innovation & Job News

60 Seconds With...Union Kitchen and Blind Dog Cafe's Jonas Singer

Jonas Singer, in blue, with Union Kitchen team

This week, Elevation DC spends 60 Seconds With Jonas Singer, cofounder of Union Kitchen and owner of Blind Dog Café. With Union Kitchen and the impending launch of Union Kitchen 2.0 in Ivy City, Singer and his cofounders have revolutionized food production in D.C., making space for food trucks and would-be cottage industries to get a foot on the ladder of larger-scale production before committing to renting retail or commercial kitchen spaces of their own. Singer, 31, surveyed the food startup scene and gives us his insights.

EDC: What was your first job? 
Singer: Coaching my little brother's basketball team. Then selling knives.

Best thing about your business right now? 
Building our city for ourselves.

If you could change one thing about your business right now, what would it be? 
I'd own a bank instead.

Describe an “A-ha moment” (in business, or in life) that you’ve had. 
Just asking is the most important thing. The worst thing that happens is someone says "no."

What are you reading? Or, what have you read recently that has had an impact on you? Why has it been influential? 
Dream City by [Harry S. Jaffe and Tom Sherwood] is one. We Are Not Ourselves [by Matthew Thomas] is a novel about life—sort of a great, "20th century" work of fiction book. The impact is really just to reset perspective. It's easy to lose sight of what matters when we're thrown into the day-to-day hustle of trying to make it.

Biggest influence in tech or startup culture today? Why? 
Income disparity. Our screwed up financial system is driving everything, whether we see it or not. Startup culture is both a protest against and resignation to the subtle and overt subjugation of those who wish for cash to those who [have] most of it.

Company to watch (besides your own)? Why?
Fundrise. It has its sights set on the comment above. [Also, it's] not a company, but the other entity is governments. Governments need to wake up to what is going on, and we as a citizenship need to reevaluate our rights, duties, and expectations of ourselves and our governments.

Beverage of choice? 
Orange juice.

Guilty pleasure? 
I'm not one for guilt really, but I get the gist. Dark chocolate. And my smart phone.

Last tweet you got that made you smile?
An announcement of another Union Kitchen product in Whole Foods. That, and a photo of my dogs terrorizing the back patio of Blind Dog.

Most recent app purchase/download? Why? 
ESPNWatch. World Cup at work on my phone. Boom.

What do you loathe about D.C.? 
The lack of unified civic pride. Maybe if our sports teams were better….

What do you love about D.C.? 
Oh, most everything else. It's a great place to be, full of opportunity, culture, struggle, innovation, frustration, and everything else that gives life texture. It isn't perfect, but it sure isn't boring.

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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