Jay Powell The Daily Herald, Columbia, Tenn.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) "Lime and Loaf" is creating a unique space offering a blend of food, education and retail. Pick up a spatula for your home kitchen or hop into a cooking class. Everyone is welcome.
In April of 2020, right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Dotted Lime owners chef Paul Jensen and his wife, Chrissy Jensen, had to get creative in order to keep their restaurant afloat. This included offering curbside pickup or to-go "take-and-bake" options.
With many of their regular customers stuck at home and having to cook for themselves, the Jensens were regularly asked what tools they use in the kitchen, such as the best knives, pots, pans and baking ingredients.
"More and more, people were staying home and either rekindling their love for cooking at home, or learning how to cook at home," Paul said. "As a chef, I get asked all the time 'What kind of knives do you use? What pots do you recommend? How can I make pasta or the perfect ravioli?'"
As more customers continued inquiring about how to be their best at-home chef, the Jensens saw an opportunity to expand The Dotted Lime to provide the best kitchenware available locally.
"We thought this was a great opportunity to bring some high-end cutlery, pots and pans and other kitchen utensils to the people of Columbia," Paul Jensen said.
Around the same time, Smith & York Co. modern home boutique owners Adam and Kathryn York were in the midst of their own business-related crossroad, having just freed up a large space in the back of their shop.
"We were selling things online and inventory was leaving faster than we expected, and so things were looking a little bit skimpy," Kathryn York said. "Then Paul calls and said he had this idea of selling kitchenware. With the timing of it, I was like 'Yes!' It was a time when you really had to get out of your comfort zone and diversify what you are doing."
It wasn't long before Smith & York began selling kitchenware curated by the Jensens, and the inventory began to sell out quickly. This led to the idea of opening a proper brick and mortar establishment as a partnership between the two businesses.
"People are at home now more than ever, cooking as a hobby or learning to bake bread for the first time. So we thought about what we could add to the market that you would either have to order online, or just something you can't run in and get at a store," Kathryn York said. "And it really just started working and took off. There is definitely a market here for high-end kitchen products."
Lime & Loaf: a Kitchenarium, 510 N. Garden St. at the New South Marketplace next to fellow small local businesses like Tallgrass Meat Co., Needle & Grain and Muletown Pottery, is now set to open for business from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Customers may also shop at Lime & Loaf's online store, as well as sign up for upcoming cooking classes at www.LimeandLoaf.com.
Though the original intent was to offer high-end kitchenware, after seeing the amount of space the building provided, the Jensens and Yorks saw a whole lot more potential for what Lime & Loaf could provide customers.
They envisioned creating a unique space offering a blend of food, education and retail they expect will continue to grow.
"It brings a sense of curiosity. Is it food? Is it a restaurant," Kathryn said. "When you drive by, you can see the retail, and it's like 'Yes, it's all of that.' It's retail, a restaurant and educational, and a place to be social as well."
The shop's retail side includes multiple lines of restaurant-quality knives, SMEG brand appliances, as well as a wide variety of pots, baking ingredients and organic food items, including "dye-free" sprinkles for sweets.
"It's very specific to what Paul likes to use, what I like to use, stuff I wish I could buy locally," Chrissy Jensen said. "I don't know how many times I've wished I could buy a cake stand in town, and so we ordered 20."
However, the retail element is just one-third of what customers will come to expect when they visit Lime & Loaf.
The business will also offer monthly cooking classes, which range from baking breads, cakes and other food items to kitchenware and cutlery. This will not only include programs hosted by local chefs, but also top-chefs from around the country.
"We'll be able to do cooking classes or a cooking demonstration, where this can be a whole operation where people can sit and sip on espresso and taste chocolates, but there's a whole class going on back there," Paul said. "Our goal is for each month of the year to get a different chef who is a real expert in a specific style of cooking."
Lime & Loaf will also be available to host special events, such as birthday parties, wedding registries and small corporate events.
"If people want to have a small gathering of around 10 or so for birthday parties, a girls night, a church small group, corporate teams that want to have a hands-on team-building event, we'll have that available," Adam York said.
"We'll also be offering wedding registry ... for people to register for practical, daily-use things like cookware, knives, things that are a nice gift that a lot of people would want. It'll be a good addition in town that won't be competitive to the registries in town. That's what you want, not to recreate something that's already being done. We want everyone to be successful, for every business to be busy. If we can bring something different, it allows visitors to visit everybody else."
The third element of Lime & Loaf will be freshly-made food items, such as baked goods, coffee, handmade sweets and grab-and-go sandwich options available for the lunchtime crowd.
"It's an organized mess, in the best way possible," Kathryn said. "It's kind of a 'Yours, mine and ours' when it comes to kitchen retail. We all ended up under one roof trying to figure it out."
While having a successful business is the ultimate goal of any small business owner, to the Jensens and Yorks, it's the chance to create something fun and new for "the whole family."
As local small business owners, part of the charm is sharing the experience with other fellow entrepreneurs.
"We found out pretty quick that from a business standpoint, our families align very well," Kathryn said.
"We're very hard workers that have the same work ethic in a lot of ways. It really is divine intervention how it all kind of came about from a crazy idea."
The family element also extends to the community, which has helped to provide this new business venture for both the Jensens and Yorks.
"That's what really makes Columbia so much fun to live and work in, because after you leave here we'll recommend you go over to Tallgrass to get your meats," Paul said. "We just want to be a part of other people's businesses and successes. We really feel blessed." ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.