Thanks to the Learning Tree, NWQOL, Chef Oya's the Trap, Flanner House, CICF and LISC for their support, sponsorship and partnership!
Questions, comments or suggestions?
When we, Earl and Ro, were catering toddlers wobbling around the world of independent food service, we quickly realized not only how important it was to have an audience taste our food, but rather how IMPERATIVE it was to our success. After completely and utterly flubbing our first big catering event, we rebounded by hosting our own 'Launch Night' where we shed around $700 out of pocket to turn our house at the time into a fine dining establishment and invited 40 or so of our closest friends over to eat our food. It was an invaluable and necessary investment into ourselves. That particular night went really well, with our friends posting pictures on various social media platforms and tagging us. It was exactly what we needed to get our feet off of the ground.
Reflecting on our humble beginnings in catering led us to the idea for Open Bite Night. Starting a business from the ground up is expensive, exhausting and requires full focus and commitment. Not everyone can afford to spend hundreds of dollars to promote themselves in the beginning. Because we're not too far removed from that world, we wanted to do something in order to give other up-and-coming cooks, chefs and caterers a platform for people to try their food thus giving them the exposure that they need without coming out of pocket for anything besides ingredients. We began planning the Open Bite (which will be a recurring event) with the cooks in mind. Our desire was for each cook to focus solely on cooking and plating their food, and we would provide the stage. They didn't have to pay for vendor space and we provided some of their supplies. It was our intent to allow them the space and opportunity to launch their business and for some to decide if they were ready to take the step into the world of culinary entrepreneurship -- all while making a little money during the process. Not everyone is blessed to have investors or small business loans in the beginning, so for the aspiring cooks in that boat, this was our investment into them. Each cook prepared 2-4 small plates and asked for $2-5 donations per dish.
The second part of Open Bite Night was the incorporation of local artists. In addition to catering, we are artists as well, so we have many artistic friends that range from spoken word poetry to jazz singers. And because food and entertainment go hand in hand, we solicited performances from roughly 20 or so local acts. Some, we were familiar with and others we were introduced to virtually. Visual artists that are participating in an art installment in the neighborhood were also incorporated in a subtle yet powerful way. The artistic side of the show was phenomenal.
Lastly, we chose to host Open Bite Night in a neighborhood, our neighborhood, that has a bad reputation. The fact that the face of the MLK/Clifton/Rader neighborhood has been changing and evolving for several years now seems to be overlooked by the media and people from different parts of town. There are many grassroots initiatives that have been planted and growing in this area, ours included. In the summer of 2016 we started partnering with the Learning Tree which specializes in asset-based community development. Since they have a similar perspective on community as we, it has proven to be a fruitful relationship. Both GRoE, Inc. and the Learning Tree have helped to create an artistic, valued and peaceful environment in this sect of the 46208 area.
We recently morphed from caterers to community advocates and that was much in part to Open Bite Night. We realized that while we truly do enjoy feeding the masses, our biggest joy is in bringing the masses together, showcasing their value and providing reasons for individuals to value each other. We want to empower people and unearth their hidden talents. We want to help lift people to achieve personal successes. Our motivation is unification, not profit. And now that we have officially taken that stance, you can expect to see more Open Bites (and other community-driven events) in the future.
If you would like to partner with us, please reach out via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.