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Economy

Peaceful Fruits Owner Wants To Buy Hattie's Food Hub

photo of Hattie Larlham
PEACEFUL FRUITS

A Summit County entrepreneur is making a bid to save a non-profit work program for people with developmental disabilities.

Since last summer, Evan Delahanty has been contracting with Hattie Larlham for about a dozen workers to produce acai fruit strips for his company, Peaceful Fruits. The arrangement has proven successful at Hattie's Food Hub, a farm-to-table work program near the Akron Zoo.

But Hattie's is restructuring and plans to close the hub unless a buyer can be found by August 31. Delahanty says that's the opening he needed.

“From a business side, it makes a lot of sense. And then, from the mission side, we would 100 percent love to continue to support Hattie’s. They’ve been an incredible partner for us. And if we can now turn around and help them out and especially help them keep their jobs, that would give back a little bit of the support they’ve given us.

“Right now, they have a training mission where they’re helping train their folks to do a bunch of different food-related tasks. So that’s why we’re outgrowing it. But if we’re able to go in and really focus the people and the building on just making healthy, delicious fair trade fruit snacks, we could really do some awesome velocity out of that space.”

As part of its reorganization, Hattie Larlham is also closing its café in Akron -- which employs about 20 people -- and the organization is looking for a partner with which to merge.

Delahanty says – if he’s able to take over the Food Hub -- he plans to expand the number of workers in the near future. He adds that his company got a huge boost from its appearance on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” That episode is being rerun this Friday night at 9.

Hattie's Chief Development Officer Catherine Schwartz says they’re "looking forward to continuing their conversations with people who are interested in the Food Hub, and looking forward to seeing it continue as a strong community asset.”