Local restaurants lend kitchens to chefs looking to get their own start

Opening up a restaurant is no small feat.

A number of establishments have opened in Spokane only to close a few months later because owners were not prepared. Lately, though, businesses have been embracing so-called “pop-up kitchens” to help others get their start in a way they hadn’t.

D’Bali Asian Bistro in Airway Heights is on example.

“I opened my doors like my home to who wants to show their talent and skill to the restaurant industry,” said owner “Mamma” Jeannie Choi.

When Choi opened D’Bali, she went straight from her four burner stove at home to commercial kitchen. She said the process was not easy. Now, she’s doing what she can to help others get their start.

On Sundays when D’Bali is closed, Choi opens the kitchen to chefs who want to take a crack at restaurant life.

Kelly Bishop helped Choi open D’Bali and remembers the plans from the early days.

“Starting very early on in the business development process, it was one of her ideas to be able to showcase up and coming talent that may not have had the platform or opportunity to do so,” said Bishop.

Noreen Hiskey has been one of the first to take advantage of the pop-up kitchen at D’Bali.

“I’m not a professional cook to start off with, I’ve had no previous training. I’m just super passionate about food,” Hiskey explained.

Like Choi, Hiskey started by cooking for friends at home. She said the pop-up kitchen provides a much different experience.

Pop-ups are popping up all over the Inland Northwest and not just in restaurants.

At Made With Love Bakery in West Central Spokane, you can grab pie and cookies during the day. But at night, it’s all about bread.

“Lucky Lady Bread Company is an artisan sourdough pop-up on Sunday afternoons,” said bread-maker Stacie Kearney.

The woman behind Lucky Lady Bread contributes to the building’s rent, but that is about it when it comes to the financial risk involved.

“I think a pop up is a great way to start something out and see if you really love it. You know, getting in the shallow end, not the deep end,” Kearney said.

Both Kearney and Hiskey have dreams of opening up their own place one day. Kearney said she envisions a space where people can get bread and pastries all the time. Hiskey said she wants to focus on other people’s pop-ups.

“[It would be] kind of like a restaurant space, but not with a daily restaurant service. Have a kitchen that’s certified and everything, so we can encourage more home chefs and cooks to be able to do this,” said Hiskey.