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Pike Mkt recovery


Kitchen & Market

European-style neighborhood groceries

As a busy woman - kids, school activities, husband, a full-time job in retail grocery, Stephanie King dreamt of her perfect grocery shopping experience. Fewer choices ("who has time to choose between 18 olive oils?"); near home or office so easy to stop on the way home ("like a corner store, but not a 7-Eleven"), an answer to the horrifying question, "What's for dinner?", less stress.

Stephanie retired in 2019 with the goal of getting her plan in writing. She took a business course and wrote a business plan. As she talked to people about her idea, it received a lot of interest. Before the pandemic, she was introduced to Ethan Stowell; he liked the idea and that it was outside the restaurant realm. She asked for help getting launched. Two months later, the pandemic hit and everything stopped.

A friend was involved with the Hmong who sell flowers at Pike Place Market. With the Market closed, they needed to find a way to continue to sell and began selling online with people picking the flowers up at the women's homes. She and her friend talked about how the grocery idea might work in a similar way, and how making a meal kit might be good during the pandemic. Her friend suggested she test the theory out by making a meal kit for Mother's Day. The downside? 10 days and counting to Mother's Day. Stephanie called Ethan. He gave her the Cortina restaurant kitchen (closed like many other restaurants) and three cooks. Her high school daughter created a logo, website where they could take online orders, and a photo outlay. "She did it all, which we still use, and she insisted we get on Instagram. She did that, too. I decided to take all of what we earned on those meal kits and donate it. I'm not afraid to fail, but since I hadn't done anything like this before, I thought if it didn't go well, at least it was a charitable event. We sold 250 kits and donated $10,000 to Mary's Place."

The next piece of good news was that the people who bought the meal kits were asking, "What's coming next week?" That was the start of their roasted chicken. Ethan and Stephanie became partners, and all the meal kits were made in the Cortina kitchen for a year. "Booths 1 and 5 in Cortina were our offices; we printed labels from those booths! Ethan is a great human being. He mentored me on how to build a company and let us use his commissary kitchen when Cortina reopened. We just bought and are moving into our own commissary kitchen. We still meet weekly. His hands are full, but he has all these resources, assets, and knowledge and wants to help others. He helps a lot of people."

The meal kits were one part of Stephanie's plan. "As a mom, I had tried other companies' prepared foods. It was either not enough food, or they gave you part of a meal and you still had to fill in. Some have you order a week in advance. I don't know what's happening next week; our lives aren't like that. It's more like at 5:30 or 6 p.m. when I realize we can eat at home. I was often too busy to plan and when I did, things changed and food went unused. And if I had a non-busy moment, I just wanted it to be easy that day. In talking with other women, I found out they felt the same. That's why I built Kitchen & Market." Stephanie has used the meal kits to taste and evaluate her recipes. "When someone wants something that's in a meal kit, it often becomes an item in the store that people can buy individually. The meal kits are on a four week rotation, so you get something new but also know that if you really like something, it will be coming back."

Recipe card instructions include the entire meal, main and sides. You don't get partway through and realize you should have started the vegetable 10 minutes ago. Steps for each part of the meal are included in the right order.

She's considering meal kits for happy/sad occasions. "It could be a new baby or a friend who is ill. It goes back to a time when people brought casseroles to neighbors and friends."

Thanksgiving is coming up and Stephanie recalls last Thanksgiving. "Our Thanksgiving meal kit is just off the charts. It's my favorite holiday: no presents, just all day cooking of recipes I know, wine, football, sleeping afterward. With our meal kit, you still get to cook and the house smells good. No pre-cooked turkey, but it is pre-brined and stuffed with onions and herbs, legs trussed. You just roast it. We have lots of sides you can add on, but it comes with mashed potatoes that taste just like you cooked and mashed them, green beans, and a link to our Thanksgiving page. Our Christmas meal kit last year was just as good. We offered three different proteins and sides."

Connie Adams/November 2022

Kitchen & Market

1926 Pike Place
Seattle, WA 98101

7635 SE 27th St
Mercer Island, WA 98040

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