With the firm belief that all the best parties happen in the kitchen, the aptly named The Kitchen in German Village has been feeding Columbus with Taco Tuesdays and participatory dining events for two years.
Business partners Anne Boninsegna and Jen Lindsey met while working together at the Franklin Park Conservatory. While The Kitchen was still a long way off, a cooking camp held by a renown chef at the Conservatory planted a seed of inspiration.
“She really focused on how food brings people together,” Boninsegna explains.
After extended tenures, both left the Conservatory within a year of each other. They started talking business ideas and found they had something in common – when it came entertaining, “We were always the ones in the kitchen,” Boninsegna says. “All of the best parties happen in the kitchen. We just used that as our guide.”
The duo turned something they did as a natural, social outlet into a business.
“We now get people to come and cook with us,” Boninsegna says.
Most of The Kitchen’s business comes from participatory cooking and dining events.
A group of diners spends the evening cooking a four to five course meal, enjoying their spoils when it’s ready. Inspiration for the dinner themes is wide, with more traditional Italian or Mexican menus, to a Mamma Mia, Greek-inspired dinner that’s happening later this month. Pop culture isn’t off limits either, as they’ve hosted a Bob Marley-themed event.
“I think it’s really fun when the public contacts you and says we would love to do this,” Boninsegna says. The Kitchen gets a lot of input from the public on dinner ideas as well.
The Kitchen’s participatory dinners can be enjoyed two ways, either as a private group event, or as a public dining event. The space holds events for everything from corporate retreats to birthday parties. For public events, “You come and you cook with whoever else is here that night,” Boninsegna says.
Capped at about 40 people, The Kitchen takes care of all the stressful parts of entertaining – set-up, shopping and cleaning – leaving guests to cook and enjoy.
The spot is also know for its Taco Tuesday. Every Tuesday The Kitchen serves up a rotating menu of world-inspired tacos, and just celebrated their two-year anniversary with a best-of night.
That two-year mark is a big one for Boninsegna. She feels like they are finally over the “hump.” It’s a milestone that would have been but a dream without the help of some local partners.
Boninsegnaa took ECDI’s business courses, making connections with both professionals there and other business owners.
“They were so supportive, just true cheerleaders, just a terrific resource,” she says. “I can’t image having done this without them. Starting my first business, having those kinds of conversations and people that were willing to just talk to you is incredible.”
As with most businesses, financing did prove to be difficult in the beginning. The Ktichen was an early adopter of crowdfunding, running a Kickstarter before many people knew what it was. They were also able to find a bank that would take a chance on the concept. The bank got them the money they needed to finish off the project.
Experience Columbus has also played an important role in garnering guests for The Kitchen. The duo joined the organization about six month in, both already familiar with it from their days at the Conservatory.
“They had in mind the best for Columbus, and we wanted to be a part of them talking about what’s best in Columbus,” Boninsegna says.
Besides providing information on The Kitchen on their website, “They are really good about getting people in the door,” Boninsegna says.
With a unique concept, a description doesn’t always do the space justice, and Experience Columbus has not only held events there themselves, they get other tour groups and visitors to the space to experience it.
As business owners, Experience Columbus’s networking events have proven helpful for The Kitchen.
“They have some of the best networking events because it’s so cross-disciplinary,” Boninsegna says. “It’s been really beneficial for us.”
For more information, visit thekitchencolumbus.com.