During the pandemic, the demand for in-person cooking classes plummeted, leaving Gatherings Kitchen in Lakewood at a loss. The establishment put food on the table by way of interactive cooking sessions, such as their sold-out Garden Bounty and American Diner Supper Club events ($125 each) or their five-week prep school course ($500).
Soon after the shutdown, the kitchen began experimenting and found their solution: a transition to prepared meals for hungry Clevelanders to grab and go. The newest endeavor, Gingham Market, soon followed. The artisanal, to-go-gourmet market opened its doors July 9, 2020, on Madison Avenue as a way for Gatherings Kitchen to meet the changing needs of its customers — the demand for restaurant-quality food at home.
According to owner Ruth Kostadinov, the new side of the business allowed the kitchen to connect with a different side of the Lakewood community.
“We met so many new people who said, ‘I hope you keep doing this,’ and we thought, ‘you know what? Let’s do it,’” Kostadinov says. “So, we aren’t really doing catering anymore, and we’ve pivoted to the market.”
Here are four things to know about before trying a delectable to-go meal.
Food on the fly. Ready-to-eat meals are made available for pickup two to three days per week. Preorder to-go meals on Gingham Market’s website until midnight the day before. On a given day, customers are met with an array of meals that are made up of Gatherings Kitchen favorites. After reserving a meal, customers can pick up their food on the specified day between 3-6 p.m. The prepared meals for two include an entree, two sides, and a dessert. “Most of our dinners, the supper for two, are $30-40. Sandwiches are usually around $7.50. It's comfort food, but not necessarily all American," Kostadinov says. "There’s something for everybody.”
Learning to cook. While visiting the Gingham Market website, customers can sign up for gourmet cooking classes through Gatherings Kitchen. Course options include kids cooking camp, meal-prepping workshops and the monthly supper club. Supper Club changes month to month and is a social, hands-on cooking experience, as opposed to Gatherings Kitchen prep-class that is geared toward improving technical skills. Gatherings Kitchen also hosts private event classes where the menu is chosen upon booking. Kostadinov says the most popular choice is “Italian Feast,” which teaches the art of pasta making. “I’m so excited to be working with the wonderful team that we’re building. They’re so energized and come in with great ideas everyday,” Kostadinov says.
Creative in the kitchen. Head chef Lloyd Foust started working for Gingham Market in November 2021, quickly bonding with Kostadinov over their love for food and their cookbook collections. Inspired by its potential, Foust’s favorite thing about working at Gingham Market is the creative opportunities it provides. “The grab-and-go menu is different every day, so we can keep the wheels turning. Customers that come in for lunch every day can try new things. It’s cool to see how it works on a small scale as opposed to a restaurant that is making 150 sandwiches for lunch,” Foust says. His favorite to-go meal is the corn beef sandwich with thousand island dressing or braised chicken thighs. “I’m excited to work the summer and the fall and get customer feedback and see what the community wants,” he says.
Forming a community. “The support has been excellent. Meeting all the people coming in has been so wonderful,” Kostadinov says. “Gingham Market is the kind of market that I would want on my street. So many times in classes, people will say, ‘Where did you get this ingredient? Where did you get this tool? Where can I find these things?’ We’ve found that we have an eye for these things and can now bring them to people and give them a location to purchase them.”
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