"A Chef’s Life" brings more than food to Kinston's table
The public television series "A Chef's Life" starring Vivian Howard and Ben Knight – owners and managers of Kinston's Chef and the Farmer – has yielded not only interesting menus, but also it has given a boost to the local economy.
Area farmers, their produce, and sponsors of the show, have gained national exposure for their efforts.
Ben Knight says he estimates that the show has increased the restaurant's business by at least 15%. "We average an extra 20-30 guests a night," he said, noting that reservations for weekend seatings (Friday and Saturdays nights) are increasingly hard to snag.
He also noted that usually the mid-weeks after Thanksgiving tend to be slow, "but this week – Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (Dec. 2-4, 2013) we've got pretty much a full house."
Knight says he thinks the line of extra Chef and the Farmer customers has helped to land more business for other downtown eateries, such as the new Boiler Room, and a created a lot more foot traffic for downtown retailers.
The demand for seats in the restaurant has led to a demand for rooms in at least one Kinston bed and breakfast, The Bentley at 117 West Capitola Street.
Linda McConnell, inn keeper at the noted bed and breakfast, reports that over the past several weeks, she has fielded at least 25 calls for rooms by prospective customers who say they are coming to Kinston to dine at the Chef and the Farmer. Reservations are being made for the 2013-2014 seasonal holidays and she already has one reservation for July 2014.
Dennis Tracz, Pink Hill entrepreneur who has been leasing space in the Kinston Enterprise Center for his new business Carolina Wild, Inc. muscadine juice, reports that his sponsorship for the show has yielded numerous calls from around the US asking where the product can be purchased.
He says that because of the sponsorship, Carolina Wild, Inc. (formerly Mom Delicious) has received calls from Minnesota, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Seattle and "a whole bunch more."
Noting that the challenge for a new product such as his is to get on grocery store shelves, the sponsorship has helped "to break the ice" with grocery chains asking information about locally produced products such as Carolina Wild's muscadine juice.
Mark Pope, director of Lenoir County economic development, said "A Chef's Life has been a huge success for them and for us."
He says he has received calls from economic development officers working for Smithfield Foods, similar officers in New York, Virginia, Texas, Arizona and other states.
Set for December 12, 2013
Dedication of African American
Local arts leader Sandy Landis is all smiles as a dramatic art installation is being readied for the new African American Music Trail as the hub for an 8 county commemoration honoring African American musicians who traveled the world to share their art.
The Kinston Free Press ran a headline November 1, 2013 entitled: “A Vision Takes Shape,” telling the story of a vision nurtured by local arts director Sandy Landis for more than eight years.
The newspaper’s story reported installation of a dramatic piece of art. The mission of the art and its surrounding park: to celebrate the contributions of African-American musicians who called Kinston home. Many of them went on to national and international prominence.
Called the African American Music Trail Park, it will be dedicated December 12, 2013 at its site at the intersection of Queen and Springhill Streets, time to be announced later.
A large delegation of local and state leaders are expected to converge on Kinston for the event. While Kinston and its historic roster of musicians serve as a hub for the commemoration, the African American Music Trail actually covers eight Eastern North Carolina counties including Lenoir.
With Ms. Landis’ urging and pushing, the local project has been funded by the NC Department of Transportation, North Carolina Arts Council, the Golden LEAF Foundation and the local arts council.
2014 Sand in the Streets schedule announced
The 2014 Sand in the Streets calendar has been set by Pride of Kinston, as follows:
A revamped Run for the River
Pride of Kinston’s Run for the River – with a new partner, the little bank – is evolving into an expanded opportunity for runners throughout the region and State.
In addition to the traditional 8K race and 1 mile fun run, planners have added a 5k race to make the race more appealing to more athletes. Changes in the race courses through downtown Kinston are also in the works.
The date for the 9th annual race is March 29, 2014. A pre-party for runners, sponsors and volunteers will take place the evening of March 28, 2014 at the Community Council for the Arts in downtown Kinston.
Enticing new investors
A growing campaign to highlight properties available for lease or purchase details information about each under the Invest in Downtown site on Pride’s website.
A project of Pride’s Economic and Property Development committee headed by Stuart Lindley, buildings deemed to be in good condition and available for immediate use are candidates for the enlarged promotional effort.
What Is Pride of Kinston?
The mission of Pride of Kinston, Inc., established in 1984, is to lead downtown revitalization in Kinston using the Main Street approach developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which promotes economic development within the context of historic preservation.
Pride of Kinston is one of 57 Main Street communities in North Carolina in a program coordinated by the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Division of Community Assistance. (www.nccommerce.com). For more information about Pride of Kinston, see About Pride.
Pride of Kinston • 327 North Queen Street • Kinston, NC 28501• (252)
Artist Bruce D. Ziegler has generously made available to Pride his portrait of