Oakley Kitchen Offers Seven Savory Food Starter Options
CINCINNATI – Hyde Park resident Terry Grefer’s first impression of the new Oakley Kitchen Food Hall on Madison Road was simple.
“We are just delighted to be here,” said Grefer. “My first main impression is that I’m just impressed with the whole concept.”
Grefer decided to visit Oakley Kitchen, located at 3715 Madison Road in Oakley, on a recent Thursday with neighborhood friends.
One of these friends, Jeannine Winkelmann, discovered cooking via Facebook.
“I think it’s really exciting,” Winkelmann said. “And it’s really convenient and I certainly remember when my kids were little and no one liked the same food that this would be a great place for families.”
Winkelmann referred to the concept behind Oakley Kitchen which makes it a unique neighborhood concept.
“It’s special because all of the kitchen owners, and there are seven of them, have their own recipes and these are all restaurants that you would find elsewhere and they could be in eight different neighborhoods,” said Doug Hart.
Hart acts as a consultant to the eight individual dining space owners currently operating at Oakley Kitchen. As Hart explained, each owner rents a small kitchen space for a year in the food room basement.
The food served by these vendors ranges from traditional American fare like burgers and New Orleans-style cuisine to the eclectic that includes Syrian and Hawaiian outlets.
“We don’t have chains,” Hart said. “These are all local concepts run by chefs. Most of them are launching restaurants for the first time.”
He added that there is a story behind every food court.
“There are all kinds of stories, including a refugee story,” Hart said.
Hart referred to the Olivier being held by a Syrian refugee and her two daughters. He described the fare as something similar to Mediterranean dishes that people may be more familiar with.
Then there are places like Jimmy Lou’s, a New Orleans-style restaurant operated by Jeffery Harris.
Harris moved to Cincinnati with his wife from Queen City after Hurricane Katrina decimated his hometown of New Orleans in 2005.
“This has always been a dream of mine, probably my whole life, my whole cooking life,” Harris said.
And through all of his culinary life, Harris means all of his life.
“My great-grandmother, who this restaurant is named after, started cooking for me,” Harris said. “So, and every story I was taught would always lead to her and her influence on my cooking. And so with that, it was easy for me to give this place its name.”
Harris also worked in several New Orleans kitchens as a young adult before moving to Cincinnati where he spent the last decade and a half building to the point where he could own his own home.
“For me, it’s just about giving people real, honest food where I come from,” Harris said. “And that’s all I want to do. I know the reasons why this food is what it is and why people are drawn to it.”
Harris said the popularity of his spot in the first two weeks of Oakley Kitchen opening was “ridiculous.” He also said he had plans for the future, but was not quite ready to fully announce them yet.
“Until that’s the machine I want it to be, then those thoughts are kind of on hold,” Harris said.
Learn more about each of Oakley Kitchen’s suppliers and what they have to offer at www.oakley-kitchen.com.