What’s up, people?
You haven’t heard from me in a while, I know. Like, I feel incredibly guilty over the amount of time it’s been since I last published an update here. (Don’t go looking!)
For the last several months, I’ve been utterly consumed with a secret project that relegated regular posting here to the back burner. However, today I’m ready to pull the curtain back and show you what we’ve been working on over here for so long!
The Gathered Kitchen
You guys already know that 99.9% of my home is entirely thrifted, and I try to furnish our home as cheaply and sustainably as possible. For me, shopping secondhand isn’t just about saving money: it’s also about saving the environment, reducing waste, and living out my ethics.
Now that our home is largely furnished (sure, I’m still working on various rooms, but I have all the major furniture players locked down), I don’t have as much of an impetus for thrift store shopping… And you all KNOW how much I love thrift shopping!
For a while, I was feeling a little lost without an outlet for my passion. I thought about opening an Etsy shop to sell vintage finds, but I’ve always been derailed by the stresses of packaging and shipping. And did the world really need another vintage shop anyway?
The one day, I was walking out of my favorite thrift store, located next to a bagel shop, when I saw one of the bagel shop employees walk out to the dumpster with a plastic bag full of bagels… and throw it away.
It definitely raised my eyebrows, but I headed home without giving it too much thought. Until I was out thrifting again the following weekend, and spotted the same thing.
Same guy. Same hoodie. Same bag full of bagels.
This happened two more times before my interest was irresistibly piqued.
This time, I watched him out of the corner of my eye until he headed back inside, then sidled over to the dumpster to satisfy my curiosity. Yep, there it was, sitting on top: one of those translucent plastic bags full of whole bagels — whole wheat, poppy seed, blueberry, everything — looking perfectly edible and appetizing.
Perfectly. Good. Bagels.
In the trash.
What I did next was definitely completely out of character, but I just had to investigate further. I reached out and tore the bag open and grabbed one of the bagels.
It was still soft, and slightly warm.
What did I just stumble upon? I thought to myself. I was heading into a thrift store for secondhand home goods… and instead, I found secondhand food…
You guys, I’m just as timid about germs as the next person, but here was this bag of delicious bagels just sitting on top of the trash. No rotten banana peels, no old coffee grounds mixed in. Instead of walking into my favorite thrift store to hunt down some treasures, I filled my purse with those bagels and headed home.
After that, it was like a switch had been flipped.
Everywhere I went, I spotted perfectly good food that was going to waste.
A plate full of fries. A glass 3/4 full of orange juice. Produce rejected for having a few blemishes. Day old donuts. Leftovers.
The wheels slowly began turning.
What if instead of beautifying living spaces with found treasures, I could create beautiful fuel for living out of found food? As someone who was already thrifting just about everything else, from the art on her walls to the shoes on her feet, gathering food seemed like the logical next step.
I dove into research.
Did you know that here in America, we throw away up to 40% of food that is safe to eat? We waste 165 billion dollars each year.
Did you know that reducing our food waste by just 15% would be enough food to feed more than 25 MILLION Americans each year?
Did you know that I couldn’t find a single restaurant focused on serving secondhand food in the Dallas area?!
And so The Gathered Kitchen was born.
A Secondhand Dining Experience
The Gathered Kitchen is a restaurant concept based entirely on sourcing food locally and sustainably… and secondhand.
A few months ago, I joined forces with a local chef who has extensive experience cobbling together delicious recipes on the fly, and together we put together a business plan for our innovative new restaurant.
Everything is prepared on site, using the almost-freshest of ingredients scavenged from local businesses and other eateries.
Our menu will change daily (and hourly) based on what our servers are able to source, but some staff favorites include the Twice Twice Mashed Potatoes, Sushi Meatloaf Surprise (a truly inspired blend of almost-fresh fish and ground meats du jour), and of course, the original Anything Bagel (what will the flavor/texture of the day be? anything is possible!).
Not to mention the chic location, where you can dine in vintage-inspired comfort on mismatched thrifted china…
And enjoy our house specialty cocktail, the tongue-in-cheek Garbage Juice, served in reclaimed jam, salsa, and spaghetti sauce jars.
We’re about to open our first location here in Dallas, TX this month, but I wouldn’t bet on it being our last! Hailed by D Magazine as “A truly divine dumpster-to-table dining concept”, the outpouring of support from the local community has been fantastic.
“I used to think eating garbage was disgusting,” said one of our early taste-testers, “But now I’m paying $15 for the best wilted spinach salad I’ve ever had in my life.”
With feedback like that, who knows where this crazy little business venture could end up?!
I have SO MUCH MORE to share with you guys! Everything from how we found our location (an old taxidermy shop)…
to getting approved with the health inspector (you can imagine the hurdles there!), to developing our recipes, to planning our launch… Follow along in the coming weeks as I dive into a new series for The Gathered Kitchen here on the blog!
In the meantime, I’ll be doing a lot of this in preparation for our big opening day in just a few weeks!
Wish me luck on my gatherings!
Okay, but in all honesty…
Just about everything in this blog post.
I am not an aspiring restauratuer.
Most of the photos are stock photos, with a few creative alterations.
There is no bagel shop next to my favorite thrift store.
I have no idea if it’s possible to get this business model for a restaurant approved by my local health department, but I have my doubts.
Those glamor shots of me posing with the grocery store dumpsters.
St. Vincent de Paul is my favorite thrift store.
My desire to keep things out of the landfill.
The stats about how much food is wasted each year.
The fact that 1 in 4 children here in my own part of Texas can’t count on their next meal, and often go hungry.
It’s fun to joke about taking my love of thrifting to extremes and opening a crazy dumpster-diving diner, but it takes a serious turn when I realize what a luxury it is to make light about these things…
So if you enjoyed today’s April Fool’s post, I hope you’ll join me in taking a moment to contribute something to help make sure the families in our communities are fed!
It’s always so amazing to me to see what we can do together!
(That part is NOT an April Fool’s joke.)
If you’re in the mood for more humor…
Check out these posts from past April Firsts: