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Amy’s Kitchen opens production center in San Jose

Organic frozen-foods maker plans to hire additional staff

- By George Avalos gavalos@ bayareanew­ Contact George Avalos at 408-859-5167.

SAN JOSE >> Amy’s Kitchen is producing healthy frozen foods at a brand-new San Jose facility that the company officially opened on Aug. 25, and says it is already seeking to hire more workers.

The company is producing frozen organic pizzas at the new site at 1885 Las Plumas Ave. in San Jose and has decided to hire more workers because it intends to also make frozen enchiladas at the facility.

“We looked all over California for a new production center, in Southern California, the Central Valley, and we picked this location,” Andy Berliner, chief executive officer and co-founder of Amy’s Kitchen, said in an interview.

Amy’s Kitchen sought out the new location because it discovered that people working from home during the coronaviru­s outbreak were seeking more frozen foods.

“During the pandemic, demand for our pizzas, burritos, and other foods went up 100%,” Berliner said. “We really didn’t have the capacity to meet the demand.”

That meant Amy’s had to find a new location to produce organic frozen foods and eventually picked San Jose.

“Expansions of wonderful companies like Amy’s Kitchen are very important,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said. “The economy isn’t just Google and Apple, although we love those jobs.”

San Jose is seeking a diversity of jobs that extend beyond tech positions that require high skills, the mayor said.

“We need everyone to have access to jobs, including entry-level jobs,” Mayor Liccardo said. “Food manufactur­ing is often overlooked, but it is increasing­ly an important part of our economy.”

Amy’s Kitchen says it’s actively seeking to expand its workforce at the San Jose production center, which totals 65,000 square feet.

“Right now we have 186 employees and we plan to hire another 120,” said Natalia Hunter, plant manager.

A job fair is scheduled to be held at the new Amy’s Kitchen production center on Las Plumas in San Jose from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, the company said.

Petaluma-based Amy’s Kitchen operates production centers in Santa Rosa; Pocatello, Idaho; and Medford,

Ore. Amy’s is also building a production center in Goshen, N.Y.

Amy’s Kitchen is a family-run business that was founded in 1987 in Petaluma by Andy Berliner and his wife Rachel Berliner. The company became a pioneer in frozen organic foods.

Rachel Berliner was on bed rest, and under doctor’s orders to stay out of the kitchen, just ahead of the birth of their child.

The couple became disenchant­ed with the lack of quality in the takeout food Andy was bringing home. They decided they could do better by preparing and cooking their own meals.

The first dish: a pot pie based on a recipe created by Eleanor Goodman, Rachel’s mom, the grandmothe­r of the newest addition to the family, Amy Berliner. The family business was quickly named after baby Amy.

Now, the company produces more than 230 million meals a year that are served to more than 14 million consumers.

Amy’s Kitchen executives are pleased with how the San Jose production operation has fared so far.

“We are very happy,” Berliner said. “We have been learning to walk and soon we are going to run.”

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