Will keep some operations in Fairfax; plans for cafe and educational centerPETALUMA -- A Fairfax-based organic and raw foods maker and kitchen is moving much of its operations to northern Petaluma as part of an expansion of production and to open up a larger cafe and holistic center.

Lydia’s Organics (www.lydiasorganics.com) has leased approximately 8,000 square feet at 1435 N. McDowell Blvd. and an additional 3,500 square feet across the street, according to owner Lydia Kindheart. The 3,500 square-foot property will house a production facility for the company’s dehydrated food line, all of which is vegetarian or vegan, both cooked and raw food, and gluten free, Ms. Kindheart said.

The larger property will be a cafe and educational center, to be called the Sunflower Center, which will hold trainings, screenings, speakers and other events geared toward teaching people about healthful foods and other topics, Ms. Kindheart said.

“My whole niche is to supply food with the highest integrity,” she said, adding that much of her products are geared toward people with allergies.

The company has three branches -- Lydia’s Organics, Lydia’s Kitchen and Lydia’s Lovin’ Foods -- and employs 75 people at its current Fairfax location, at 31 Bolinas Road.

Renovations are under way and the Petaluma location is expected be open by either August or September, Ms. Kindheart said. An additional 15 to 20 new employees will be hired upon the center opening, Ms. Kindheart said. Some of the employees in Fairfax will move into the Petaluma locations.

The company’s products, ranging from gluten-free baked goods to cereals, are available at Whole Foods and other health food stores nationally. Catering and festivals are also areas that the company specializes in and sees room for growth, Ms. Kindheart said. The restaurant side features items like gluten-free crepes and quinoa burgers.

Petaluma is an ideal location for the northern expansion, given the proximity to northern Marin, Sebastopol, Sonoma and Santa Rosa, as well as being along the Highway 101 corridor, Ms. Kindheart said.

“It’s not right next to the highway, but it’s close. It’s a really pleasant environment and I think it will be a good addition to the area,” she said.

Other tenants in the office park, including Enphase Energy, EPIC Insurance, Raydiance, Lowepro, among others, also made the location attractive for Lydia’s expansion.

“There are about 400 people in the building and the adjacent building and there aren’t a whole lot of other places to eat around there,” Ms. Kindheart said. “It’s kind of built-in marketing.”

Alon Adani, who handles acquisitions for Cornerstone Properties, which owns the building, said the addition of Lydia’s will help diversify the tenet mix of the business park.

“What I’m trying to do is diversify the environment of the park, because that’s how you can achieve a long-lasting stability,” Mr. Adani said. “Diversification helps with stability.”

Some operations will remain in Fairfax, but Petaluma will be the main location.

“We’ll do some production in Fairfax, and we’ll launch my desserts from there,” Ms. Kindheart said. “It will be fresh food in Petaluma.”

In addition to selling healthful foods, Lydia’s will offer holistic features such as walk-in massages while expanding its catering and event and festival businesses. The location also has ample outdoor space and a volleyball court, Ms. Kindheart said.

The company was started 15 years ago by Ms. Kindheart and her mother and daughter.