Drama for Dinner: A Q/A with Kitchen LTO Creator Casie Caldwell

Categories: Chewing the Fat

That's when it's going to get real. What will the hours be like at Kitchen LTO?
Lunch will be casual. You'll have two choices and a couple sides and you can get it until it's sold out. Fixed price, around $12 or so. Dinner will be reservations-only, and fixed price too, which will vary based on food costs and that sort of thing. It'll have a limited menu with a few choices for amuse bouche, entrees and dessert.

It seems a lot more expensive to do it this way, to change out the interior every quarter. How does that work?
Oh this is the really cool part. An architect is working with me to deliver essentially a modular white box. The kitchen won't change of course, the bar won't change, and the and the flooring probably won't change. It's like a soundstage. Everything is plug-and-play and there are all these transformable elements so the designer comes in and sees what they have to play with -- Paint, lighting, a ceiling that can be raised and lowered -- and $20k.

It's like a $20,000 Mr. Potato Head.
Right. Like a toolbox. They can have fun with the colors, lights, move the tables and chairs. It would be great, down the line a bit, to work with furniture companies and have them donate products and become a partner. We'll have a placard at the front that has the chef, designer and partners on it. Maybe we'll bring in a celebrity chef for a special evening once a quarter with the proceeds going to charity. Maybe we do a face-off between the four chefs that year to figure out who's tops. I think it's important that there's an element of giving back since that's part of the pop-up concept too. Maybe the chef can choose the charity.

Or the public.
Absolutely. And we're thinking of like at Bolsa Mercado where the products chef is cooking with are for sale. That's a way to help out local products that don't have a storefront. If the chef is using it, maybe we sell it and it gives them exposure. You get new talent in the door and the story never gets old. And you'd better get in before it's gone!

You have SO many ideas.
I'm really excited about all the possibilities. It's going to be a lot of work, but it'll be rewarding. We're creating a place for this new talent to really spread their wings and grow.

And for you -- you've come really far.
I was an account manager by trade. I like to complete a project and then start over. People say, "It seems like a lot of work!" and yeah, it's a lot of moving parts, but that's what I do best. You get all the really fun aspects of restaurant ownership all rolled up into one. There will be different layers each quarter with each new designer and each new chef.

It sounds pretty crazy.
Well, I originally designed Greenz for me. Then I found myself designing LTO for me, too. People like to know who is going to be the next chef and what's next. I really think that the idea behind LTO extends the attention span of the "Fickle 500." I'm designing this for food lovers like me.

Well, you've certainly got your work cut out for you.
I told myself I'm never doing a restaurant again and now I'm doing it once a quarter. Am I crazy? Yeah, I am. But it'll be so rewarding when we provide a unique, limited-time experience that you've just gotta get in on.

What's next on your to-do list?
The main thing is getting those applications in the door. We're getting the word out to chefs and designers, culinary schools, whoever is looking for that next opportunity. So that's the story.

And here's where you can download the application. They're due on February 27 for the first go-round.

Kitchen LTO will be located at 3011 Gulden St., Suite 108 and is tentatively scheduled to open in May. I'm thinking of assembling a film crew.

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