Kitchen 66 lends helping hand to new restrauteurs

By on July 27, 2016

Tulsa is home to many restaurants that have stood the test of time, but for every one restaurant that finds success, there are dozens that don’t make it past the first or second year. The Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation, which focuses on entrepreneurs of all types in Tulsa, has extended its expertise to the restaurant industry with its Kitchen 66 program. “The Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation has a heart for entrepreneurship here in Tulsa,” says Adele Beasley, director of Kitchen 66, “but after some research, they found there was a need specifically in food business.”

Based in a 9,000 sq-ft space in the Sun Building downtown, Kitchen 66’s goal is to give budding restaurateurs business guidance, mentorship, and the commercial kitchen and restaurant space for them to cook up their dreams. “The idea is to take their recipes, their ideas for food companies and transform them into real, sustainable food businesses,” says Beasley. The foundation looking at programs in large cities, like New York and San Francisco, but what they created is tailored especially for Tulsa.

“We are essentially a start-up helping start-ups,” says Beasley. “We, too, have had to some changes in how we do things. For example, we were only going to open with just a couple of spots, but we had 150 applicants. So, we expanded.” The first cohort, or class, of restauranteurs began in January 2016. Each class group is comprised of two different levels, or “launches.” “Launch 1.0 is for those who say “hey, I have this crazy idea, but don’t know where to start,”” says Beasley. “What they really need at this stage is a walk-through of the foundations of food business.”

The Launch 2.0 classes are for restaurants who have recently started, have their licenses and are operating. “For them, it’s really about helping them scale their restaurant or business the way they envision.” For example, one restaurant involved has developed their own sodas. Their goal is to eventually have their sodas on the shelves in grocery stores across the country. Yet, another food entrepreneur in the class really wants to focus on distributing their product locally, through farmers’ markets, co-ops and online orders. “Through Kitchen 66, we develop a plan tailored to the needs of each participant,” says Beasley. “We give personalized mentorship and coaching. We help them troubleshoot. We are a voice of confidence and encouragement along the way.”
Kitchen 66 helps their participants with the basics, like how to price and distribute their products. But they also help them think like business professionals.

“We really teach the methodology of being a food entrepreneur; how to make strategic daily and long-term decisions to operate their business,” says Beasley. “We teach them to spend their money wisely by testing out their product, as opposed to just spending $100,000 to build out a restaurant and hope for the best.” Kitchen 66’s first round of students graduated in mid-July, and the response from the students has been overwhelmingly positive. “It has been wonderful to see how these businesses have grown over the past six months,” says Beasley. “Our relationship won’t end at graduation. There are monthly and yearly meet-ups for alumni and they will still have access to our mentors and our networks.”

Here are some of the companies from the first graduating class of Kitchen 66’s program. From gourmet popsicles to fancy salt, these restaurant and food businesses are sure to take Tulsa by storm. M&R Salsa – Russel and Megan Wagner are self-proclaimed salsa addicts. They found that they needed to create their own salsa to meet their salsa intake needs. The result is a salsa that is delightfully spicy with a hint of sweetness. They hope to have their salsas at farmer’s markets and local grocery stores soon. Let’s Roll Filipino Style – This husband and wife team are taking their authentic Filipino Lumpia Dogs on the road. Egg wrappers are filled with a delicious mix of pork and spices, then deep fried to a golden brown. They hope to cater special events, like baby showers, and they believe their rolls are the perfect snack for the big game. Comida, Sol, y Vida – This family-owned company takes traditional Honduran tamales and transforms them into a healthy, delicious treat. They use only the best ingredients, like organic chicken and vegetables, while still incorporating authentic Honduran flavors.

Garnish Finishing Salt – Chef Kate Jennemann brings her expertise to the world of finishing salt. Having studied extensively in Europe, she brings her knowledge of food and the importance of of high-end garnish salts home to Tulsa with her. Using her own garden to infuse high-quality salts, she believes every meal can be transformed with the right salt.
T’s Kitchen Door – This take-and-bake concept is perfect for busy families. Breads, pizzas and casseroles can be pre-ordered and ready for pick-up each week. T’s Kitchen Door also has fresh, from scratch breads at the Kitchen 6 Marketplace every Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Spokto Beverage Company – Started by two college classmates, Spokto Beverages are a unique take on carbonated drinks. They use a special cold brew coffee, then add a dash of sweet. And their lemon peachberry carbonated tea is a refreshing departure from sweet tea. They can be found at specialty soda shops like Ida Red and POPS!.

The Pop House –These sweet treats are made with only the best ingredients. This Tulsa start-up can be found cruising around Guthrie Green on their bicycle delivery system. From classics like Orange Cream to decadent Strawberry Chocolate, Pop House has something for everyone. Que Gusto – This family-owned restaurant concept uses traditional recipes and ingredients to create a variety of empanadas, which are a type of turnover or hand pie that contains a variety of ingredients, from meats, to veggies, even some sweets. They have an Empanada Lunch every Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Kitchen 66. Keep up with Kitchen 66’s up-and-coming restaurants on their Facebook page to get a first-hand taste during market days and pop-up dinners.

Angela Evans

About Angela Evans

Angela Evans has been digging deep into the booming restaurant scene of Tulsa since 2010. Her foray into food journalism began with The Urban Tulsa Weekly, but soon expanded to write for TulsaPeople and The Tulsa Voice. Her quirky but informative take on cuisine earned her a Tulsa Press Club Newsie for “Best Critic” in 2014. Finding those hidden gems around town is her passion, as she searches high and low for the best fried chicken or the newest spot to woo your beloved. She also loves shining the spotlight on the chefs, farmers and restauranteurs who keep Tulsa’s cuisine scene vibrant and diverse. After a brief stint out West, she has returned to Oklahoma and has brought her appetite with her. So join Tulsa's own bon vivant on her epicurean adventures.