Over the weekend, I ventured into Southeast Portland for breakfast. My destination was small, with a limited menu, and I was surprised to see that seating was a bit of a challenge. My food pick – a hearty breakfast biscuit with all the fixin’s and a sweet iced tea. Though the décor was minimal, and the line at the door a steady stream of customers, I was more interested in the open kitchen. As the chef moved back and forth at the stove, maneuvering pans, flinging ingredients, and shouting out responses to his sous chef and cashier, my eyes wandered from utensil to utensil.
Why, you ask? Because this neat little restaurant was started with our equipment. You see, when we were closing our catering business back in 2007, and selling our kitchen equipment, the owners of the small breakfast spot came in to buy a whole host of items. They were opening their first location, and in need of everything from strainers to knives. Floor mats, dishwasher trays, bowls, pots, pans, spoons, and containers were loaded into their vehicles, and with a heavy heart, we bid adieu to our kitchen friends – the items that helped to build our business by assisting us with the creation of great food.
When we started the catering business in 2003, our landlord phoned one morning to let us know he had purchased a catering business – equipment, location, and all – that was closing shop after thirty years. The walls lined with thank you notes and letters of appreciation, I remember vividly as we entered the kitchen to make our equipment selection. The space felt as though everyone had just up and left, with everything still resting quietly in its designated spot. We paused often, talking about the events they must’ve served and the number of people who had dined on their food. As we packed up our picks – baskets, coolers, serving utensils, and everything else – we thought about the legacy we were carrying on by utilizing their equipment for the start of our business. As I dined on my breakfast sandwich this weekend, I thought about how wonderful it was to have passed that legacy on to a new kitchen when we decided to close ours.
The restaurant industry is unique in that way. Very rarely do folks think about who used their stapler previously, or the company that may have occupied their new office space. Within the food service business, it’s much different, with chefs clinging tightly to their knife rolls or bringing along that favorite sauce pan. Pots, pans, knives, bowls, aprons – they become a part of the team, your kitchen friends, if you will. They become a part of your food legacy.