By MICHELLE LOVE | Personal editor
PELHAM- With the growing difficulty of hiring in the restaurant industry, Steve Pennington, owner of Blues, Bourbon & Brews, began to worry about burnout among his current staff.
Then he had the idea of doing recovery kitchens a few nights a week, which he calls a game changer.
He was trying to find ways to provide people with food without the added pressure of hiring extra hands for the scullery. Pennington thought taking over a kitchen a few days a week would be a great way to keep their current employees happy and earn money while relieving the pressure of having a full background. He also hopes it will give chefs the chance to make a name for themselves for their own brand by showcasing their work in his kitchen space.
“I feel like it works for everyone,” he said. “It brings in people who maybe follow a specific cuisine. I bring in people who may not have known my business was there, and I also introduce new kitchens to my client. It’s a game changer, and it’s exhibition all around.
The bar area, which was once a McAlister’s Deli, has a full kitchen that can offer a range of menu options. Pennington said the idea for take-back kitchens came at an ideal time.
“My biggest problem right now, like most people in business, is hiring,” he said. “Hiring is lousy right now. My front: I’m solid. I have fantastic staff who love what they do, and I couldn’t ask for better front of house staff. My back from home, I kind of run through some people, we had issues here and there, and trying to get them replaced was a huge problem.
Pennington said the takeover kitchens they recently had were a big hit, and he looked at all the different avenues of chefs and businesses who might want to showcase their kitchen. He’s made several with Big Daddy’s BBQ and even reached out to popular food truck Cousins Maine Lobster. He said he wanted the diversity of food to reflect the diversity of his clientele.
Pennington said he felt there needed to be a return to a more moral obligation for businesses to help each other.
“With this whole coronavirus thing, you’re not going to bring down big business,” he said. “With us small businesses, just being able to help your neighbor not only helps their business, but also your business. It’s cyclical.
He said he’s not just looking at people who already have an established business, but he’s even willing to take on people who might be interested in starting their own restaurant or food business and want to try working in a professional kitchen space.
“Maybe it works and maybe it doesn’t, but as long as the food is good and my customers are happy, I don’t care if they already have a brick and mortar or a truck,” did he declare. “I just want to give them a space where they can express their talents and realize their dream in the world.”
He encourages anyone interested to email him at email@example.com.