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Chef opens locally sourced catering business with supper club on R.I. Ave. NE

Chef Oliver Friendly says he hopes "to bring more awareness, development, and foot traffic" to the Rhode Island Ave. NE corridor by bringing his two food businesses there. The property, located at 2212 Rhode Island Ave NE, will serve as the new home of Eat & Smile Catering, which started in 2007, and The Bespoke Kitchen, which will function as a supper club with occasional dinners there.

As a chef, Friendly focuses on the local sourcing of ingredients.  Eat and Smile Catering currently gets "the majority of its meat, dairy and produce from within 150 miles of D.C., much of it directly from the farmer," he says. Local sourcing is good for the producers, the local economy and the taste of the food. "The Bespoke Kitchen will also focus on local sourcing, but will provide a stage for a higher level of cooking," he adds. "In essence, it's going to serve as our culinary playground."

A fourth generation Washingtonian, Friendly graduated from the local L’Academie de Cuisine and refined his cooking skills at the Hook restaurant before starting his own business. In addition to local sourcing, Friendly strives to incorporate green practices in his ventures.

Friendly purchased the property (about 800 square feet) in March 2012, but didn't move in until September 2013 due to an extremely long renovation process. His investment, including purchase, renovation and build out, totaled nearly $750,000. In terms of employment, he says, "we are looking for experienced dishwashers and cooks on an ongoing basis."

Catering operations are up and running: "We have all permits and licenses to operate as a caterer/catering kitchen. When it is time to launch The Bespoke Kitchen, it will be operating as a private event club." Friendly suggests that people interested in TBK can follow it on Facebook or join its mailing list through its website.

The chef tells Elevation DC that "the hope is to shift the focus more to TBK and provide a neighborhood dining option as time goes on," but that for now they are trying to be flexible. "With Zeke's [coffee shop] opening up three doors down," he says, "we hope to show people that there is a need for good food and drink in the area." 

Read more articles by Jeanne Holden.

Jeanne is a freelance journalist with broad experience covering economics, transportation and development issues for clients ranging from consulting firms and think tanks to federal agencies such as the State Department and newsletters such as The Urban Transportation Monitor.  Before freelancing, Jeanne worked as a reporter, writer, and editor for the U.S. Information Agency, a federal agency that supported U.S. foreign policy through educational and information programs.
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