Eat at The REAL: Ross and Kara Taylor provide fresh meals for Flagstaff

Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, June 2020

Written by Gail G. Collins

After building a successful brand nut butter brand FBOMB, husband and wife duo Ross and Kara Taylor shifted gears to open their first restaurant , The REAL Kitchen. Expanding on their healthy, high fat snack business, The REAL Kitchen was opened to create clean, quality meals for busy families like themselves. The soft opening, which tested the a la carte menu, had been a happy event. But the restaurant opened its door just five days before Flagstaff’s city-wide shutdown in March to slow the spread of COVID-19, leaving the savvy small business owners a bit blindsided.

“No one expected that, and we are wholly invested—we don’t have financial backers,” Ross explained.

The pandemic instead led the Taylors to focus on one of their secondary goals to keep the restaurant afloat.

“We had planned all along to do heat-at-home meals,” Kara said; it just came into play sooner than they had anticipated.

The restaurant’s heat-at-home meals come as family style dishes, like beef stroganoff, smoky molasses pork tenderloin or custom choices with an array of sides, like quinoa and a solid selection of drinks. The meals also offer a wide selection of drinks from chardonnay and ginger beer to bubbly waters and kombucha.

The benefits in picking up dinner from The REAL Kitchen are convenience of preparation—flash-thawing flat pack boil-in-bags that go to the table in 30 minutes or less—and quality food options with minimal additives and processing. As their Website suggests:  Don’t compromise, order online.

“We’re trying to offer value meals for the checkbook squeezed,” Kara said, but there is no skimping on ingredients.

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Hallmarks of Goodwill and Resiliency: Locals help buoy the restaurant community

Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, June 2020

Written by Gail G. Collins

Finding stories of goodwill during such tentative times has not been difficult as communities have been supporting each other in newfound ways during the COVID-19 pandemic. The people behind these good deeds, however, have proven a little more difficult to pin down.  They are busy, making positive strides in any way they can. When they sit down to share stories of comfort and compassion, they talk about others. Jamie Thousand, owner of Satchmo’s BBQ, is fond of saying, “No one loves Flagstaff more than Flagstaff.”   That’s a strong statement about the real character of our mountain community.

Like many of his fellow small business owners, he received endless encouragement from others in the midst of lockdown. Weekly customers, who had forgone logging into Yelp when business was thriving, wrote rave reviews and hopeful messages.

“There has been a challenge around every corner and curve balls thrown at us,” Thousand said, “and we adapt as quickly as possible.”

With owners nowhere near in the clear yet, and the hopeful summer boom ahead, the waters are uncharted. Planning is tenuous and preparation is dynamic. More processes, more space, but less confidence.

Along the way, Zoom conference calls and text strands buoyed and informed restauranteurs. State, city and chamber members exchanged ideas on how to interpret loose re-opening guidelines and implement safe practices, like face shields over face masks to counter asthma or a hearing deficit to continue lip reading. Scores of accepted human behaviors no one had previously second-guessed needed to be considered, such as the potential risks of a self-serve soda station.

John Conley, owner of Salsa Brava and Fats Olives, coordinated a multi-party Zoom call to share ideas and exchange information on new protocols. Tinderbox Kitchen’s Kevin Heinonen, Oregano’s David Kennedy and Thousand began a discussion of vital topics, among those the issue of liability.

“Never before in my 32 years of cooking in this amazing mountain town have I witnessed such unification, a fellowship of sorts,” Conley said, “where restaurants united and embraced one another, when a true sense of ‘no one is left behind’ prevailed.”

The crisis brought forth clear priorities.

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