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WEB EXCLUSIVE Restaurants might have closed their dining rooms but purveyors and farmers still need to sell their food to someone–and, obviously, we all still need to eat. The solution? kō•än’s new ko•mmunity Hub, spearheaded by kō•än chef Drew Smith, Tabletop Media Group founder Kristen Baughman Taber and Jenn Rice, a local journalist and brand consultant.
Inspired by Carrboro United, a multi-weekly community hub led by chef Kevin Callaghan of Acme that has been successful in Carrboro since its launch in late March, the goal of ko•mmunity Hub is to “bridge the gap between the purveyor and the public,” says Smith. Through the hub, Smith can continue buying products from purveyors to sell to the community. “Our mission is to help small businesses, local farmers and purveyors keep afloat during these hard times by uniting the community together at kō•än—and directly funneling money back into our food and beverage community.”
Smith says to think of ko•mmunity Hub like a more specialized farmers market, with an elevated feel and more items available other than just produce. Confirmed purveyors include Botanist and Barrel, Slingshot Coffee Company and Sugar and Spice Kitchen. Many of these products will be available in CSA (community-supported agriculture)-style boxes, including a picnic box with two ciders from Botanist and Barrel and two cheeses from Boxcarr Handmade Cheese and a homemade salsa duo box with chips for snacking from Mama’s Salsa. G&D Produce in Norlina, NC is also offering a produce box that will change weekly depending on what’s available. Other local farmers will contribute to the boxes as well, so customers can expect anything from mushrooms to strawberries to honey.
“In a normal setting you’d usually subscribe and get a box a month or every two weeks,” Rice explains. “But here, we’re looking to tie together farm produce and products into one box from different farms in the area.”
ko•mmunity Hub will also feature meal kits from Triangle-area restaurants and beyond. Whiskey Kitchen is offering a chicken and broccoli casserole that feeds six to eight people; Baba Ghannouj Mediterranean Buffet in Durham is offering a “Greek Night” kit consisting of chicken kebabs, lamb and beef gyros, rice, pita bread, hummus, tzatziki and baklava; and Under the Oak in Smithfield is offering a three-course meal kit for two, including chef Blake Gotliffe’s homemade charcuterie and a dessert from his wife, Megan, a pastry chef. Smith says the hub provides an exciting opportunity for folks like the Gotliffes because it’s one of the only channels that’s currently available to get their products to Raleigh consumers.
Having so many products in one location is convenient and safe as it limits the amount of time people are out of their houses shopping in different stores. And, where else can you get a meal from Wye Hill, a cold brew from Slingshot and specialized groceries like curry, cookie dough and granola from kō•än? “I don’t know any other concept where you can get so many different things in one place,” says Smith. “If you wanted to get all these things you’d have to go to three or four stores in one day.”
Smith hopes that, instead of running to Harris Teeter or other chain grocery stores, people will turn to ko•mmunity Hub for products from these local farmers and purveyors. It’s also possible that, with food shortages predicted in the near future, people will have to rely on more local suppliers anyway.
Smith, Baughman Taber and Rice say they will continue to reach out to more local farmers, purveyors and restaurants to get them to participate in the program as well. “We’re all pretty excited about this,” Smith says. “We can’t wait to see it come to fruition and help the people that need it most right now.”
ko•mmunity Hub’s first pickup day is this Saturday, May 9 at kō•än from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Orders must be placed by Thursday at 3 p.m. in order to give partners and chefs time to create the meals and boxes ordered. Place your order at koancary.com/kommunity-hub.
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