Months after closing, Kitchen at Penn owners move on
While real estate and costs played a factor in its shuttering, proprietors would still be willing to reopen in the future
October 18, 2011, 9:50 pm · Updated October 20, 2011, 2:27 am·
Alexandra Fleischman | DP
Despite serving Penn students for nearly all of last semester, Kitchen at Penn’s closure last May became permanent after its owners failed to find a permanent space.
Nate Adler, who began the restaurant last year as a Wharton and College senior, maintained a low cost business model by renting kitchen space by the hour. This, however, proved unprofitable for the kitchen’s landlord, who decided to start his own business, Roost, in that space at 4529 Springfield Ave. Without a kitchen, the business had to search for a new space. Adler said in an April 21 article of The Daily Pennsylvanian that they would close over the summer to reevaluate business problems.
The quest to find a new kitchen was unsuccessful. As Kitchen at Penn chef Jordan Miller said, kitchen space in proximity to campus was lacking and the team could not “bring together the capital” to build a kitchen from scratch.
At Kitchen at Penn’s inception, Adler found Miller on Craigslist and approached him with the plan to capitalize on the “void” of high quality comfort foods available to Penn students, Miller said.
College junior Erin Beck, who used to order from Kitchen at Penn when she wanted a treat, said that she regretted “not trying more of the sides” now that the business is closed.
Miller explained that “if presented with the right space and the money” to continue Kitchen at Penn right now, he would do it in “a heartbeat.” He said that he would love to partner with Adler again in the future.
Reminiscing about his experience cooking for Kitchen at Penn, Miller called Adler “one of the most ambitious” people he had ever met and said he was proud of their successful, though short, relationship. Despite the business lasting three months, Adler described Kitchen at Penn as “the best educational experience” of his college career.
Adler explained that the company’s advertising was limited to word-of-mouth marketing, impressive considering that they were serving 40 to 50 groups of orders a night — excluding their catering contract with Delta Delta Delta — and managed to break even on their initial investment by the end of the semester.
Engineering sophomore Kristen Pfleger, Tridelt’s Meal Plan Steward, explained that despite Kitchen at Penn’s closing last year, Tridelt would not have renewed their contract as Nationals required them to hire a chef rather than a caterer to provide food in the house this year. College sophomore Caroline Quigley, who subscribed to this catering service last year, was dissatisfied with the meals presented but heard that items ordered individually were quite good.
Adler, who graduated in May, has turned his focus back to his hometown, New York, in search of a job in the restaurant business. Though he has put his dream of running Kitchen at Penn “on hold,” for the moment, Adler remains drawn to the food industry. Adler’s other partner, College senior Daniel Abrams, went on to pursue film while Miller continues to work in the same space as a chef at Roost.
Though Adler laments that “the opportunity” to continue with Kitchen at Penn was taken away “prematurely,” he was pleased to witness the achievement and felt assured that his business model could be expand to cater to other schools, perhaps in the future.