Update: The Big Kitchen, at 1600 Altamont Ave. in Scott’s Addition is now open. The takeout place features meals available for pick up when pre-ordered (check out the menu here), plus a small grab and go section of salads, sides, smoked meats, soups, sandwiches, and beer and wine.
The Big Kitchen opened Jan. 16 and is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Sundays 2:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Delivery will begin mid-February.
Previous from Sept. 2018: We’ve all been there. After a long day, there’s no energy left to cook a wholesome meal but also no desire to venture out to eat.
You want the perks of a restaurant experience — good food prepared by someone else — but in the comfort of your own home while wearing sweatpants.
For those nights, there’s The Big Kitchen, at 1600 Altamont Ave. in Scott’s Addition.
The folks behind the popular Tazza Kitchen restaurant have been busy, primarily thinking up an entirely new dinner concept that complements the restaurants (there are three Tazza locations around Richmond and three outside Virginia) but involves fully prepared meals that consumers order and pay for online, then either pick up at The Big Kitchen or have delivered. The Big Kitchen is scheduled to launch in mid-November.
These are not meal kits, in which consumers receive the ingredients and then prepare the meal themselves. The food is cooked at The Big Kitchen and then kept chilled, and packaged in containers that allow for a pop into the microwave or oven once at home.
Craving Tazza’s signature meatballs? How about pork carnitas, shrimp and black-eyed peas, crab cakes, fresh salads or a big bowl of pasta?
“We care about good food, about eating with our families,” said Susan Davenport, one of the partners behind The Big Kitchen concept and its new umbrella company, Big Kitchen Hospitality. Other partners include her husband, John Davenport, as well as Jeff Grant and John Haggai.
“We’re all really busy and we wanted to develop a menu that was well-suited for picking up and then reheating at home,” Davenport said. “We don’t want people to have to pull out five pans” to cook, she added. “We’re really excited to make it as tech-savvy and convenient as possible.”
The Big Kitchen is located inside an old diesel and engine repair shop. An existing bay door was kept and now serves as entrance to the parking area where customers can pick up their meals.
The Big Kitchen also will have a small retail space that will include items that complement the meals, like local breads and artisan crackers and wine, but the majority of its business will happen online. Adjacent to The Big Kitchen is the company’s smokehouse, where meats are smoked for the restaurants as well as The Big Kitchen meals.
To help with recipe and menu development, Richmond native and chef Danielle Goodreau has been tapped as BKH executive chef. She was most recently executive chef with the local catering company A Sharper Palate, owned by Tuffy Stone of Q Barbeque and his wife, Leslie. Goodreau also served as recipe developer and tester for Stone’s recent cookbook, “Cool Smoke: The Art of Great Barbecue.”
Jeff Grant, one of the owners, said the concept is one that will constantly change to include fresh seasonal foods and ingredients from local purveyors, as well as customer feedback. There’s no specific theme to The Big Kitchen’s menus, he said. Rather, the food will draw on the expertise of a diverse cooking team that starts with Goodreau but also includes Chef Will Longoria (most recently of Rogue) as well as Zack Leasure, most recently executive sous chef at Tail Up Goat in Washington, D.C.
“They all bring their backgrounds, and it’s been fun to curate” the menu offerings, Grant said, particularly as they work through the added pressure of having to create meals that hold up to travel and then reheating.
“We’re methodical and crazy about the food traveling well,” he said. Unlike traditional restaurant take-out food, The Big Kitchen concept is different because the customers will reheat the food at their convenience.
“It’s a pretty unique approach” to dining, he said, so “we have to think through all of these different variables.”
He added “we’ll have the greatest hits from the Tazza kitchen … but we’ve really taken a clean-slate approach to filling out the rest of the offerings.”