Chefs across town are carving out new opportunities for themselves by taking their well-known restaurants and turning them into private catering venues.
Take Kent Rathbun and Dee Lincoln, for example: Rathbun has taken his 5-year-old Preston Center restaurant Blue Plate Kitchen and turned it into The Kitchen at 6130.
“When we elected to close Blue Plate, it was still in good shape in terms of a restaurant,” Rathbun said. He explained that the Preston Center location was packed for breakfast and lunch, but didn’t attract nighttime traffic. So how does he make that space work for a catering venue?
Well, for one, he’s got the equipment ready to go.
“There are a lot of people always looking for a space that has equipment, and a lot have a room. A lot of places don’t have a really equipped kitchen, or you end up renting,” he said. “One of the advantages of The Kitchen is that it’s ready to go.”
The Kitchen at 6130 is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and doesn’t really have a set menu. Rathbun can craft the menu to accommodate any budget or style, such as seated dinner or passed hors d’oeuvres.
As for the space itself, he’s found a way to tranform a con into a pro.
“I think the one thing that works against us as a restaurant works for us as an event space,” he said. “Since the traffic is light, a lot of private dining will take place in the evening with the ability to park.”
The case is different for Dee Lincoln, who recently transformed her Bubble Bar into a private-events-only space.
“I thought about it really seriously over the past year just because of the parties we were doing on the second floor,” she said.
As many patrons know, the Bubble Bar location was split into two levels: a wider space for seated dining below, and a more intimate, event-friendly space upstairs. And with the dramatic lighting and swanky décor, it was no wonder Lincoln found her space popular for private events. She recommends it for rehearsal dinners, weddings, seated dinners, corporate events, and holiday parties.
“We offer seated dinners at different tiers as well as food stations with carvings,” she said. “We’re seeing a nice variety of passed hors d’oeuvres and cocktails.”
She said not having to pay a room-rental fee has been a pleasant aspect for many clients.
Unlike Rathbun’s location, with its open space for parking, Lincoln’s Uptown location has a very different feel.
“This area is concentrated with hotel ballrooms and lots of great spaces. But not every party is 100 to 300 people,” she said. “We get a lot of 40 to 75 that are willing to spend the same amount of dollars for elegance.”