Small business Monday – Focus on Bitty’s Living Kitchen

photo via Kimberly McNair Brock
Birmingham AL, business
photo via Bitty’s Living Kitchen

Are you Vegetarian? Vegan? Omnivore? Check out Bitty’s Living Kitchen, the Pizitz Food Hall’s newest tenant. Find out how founder Kimberly McNair got this idea off the ground.

photo via Kimberly McNair Brock
Kimberly McNair Brock, owner of Bitty’s Living Kitchen. photo via Kimberly McNair Brock

Chef and certified Nutrition Counselor, Kimberly McNair Brock explains how her love of food and knowledge of healing with food led her to open Bitty’s Living Kitchen! Open since August 11th of this year.

photo via Bitty’s Living Kitchen

 

We offer fresh pressed juices, salads, soups, Create-Your-Own Bitty’s Bliss Bowls, and Loaves of Love. The dish I feel most proud of is our signature salads because of our signature vinaigrettes or our signature juices, they are a meal within themselves and they just make you feel better.

Our most unusual dish is our “Loves of Love.” They are unique because they are two pieces of toast made from bread we make in house called Teff Bread which is made from the Ethiopian Grain, Teff, which is naturally gluten free. The bread can be paired with one of 3 toppings:

 

The Bitty: our signature chicken salad, micro greens & pickled red onions
The Wonderment:  Our house made jam (White Peach & Vanilla Bean Jam topped with Berries, feta or nuts
Avo:  Avocado spread on our bread with lime, and sea salt topped with cherry tomatoes & red pepper flake
Shrooom:  Parmesan, Sautéed Wild Mushrooms & More Parmesan on top
photo via Kristina O'Quinn for Bham Now
photo via Kristina O’Quinn for Bham Now

The hardest thing and the most rewarding thing about being a business owner is creating team culture within a new business. It is vitally important to be successful. By being able to employ and pour into young people, I take great pleasure in letting them know that if they have a dream, they can fulfill it too. It may be hard work, but team work makes the dream work.  I love that the other owners of the Pizitz Food Hall Stalls are here to support one another and help each other out wherever we can.

A little bit about myself. I attended Advent School, which encourages a strong love art and music. My dad grew up on a farm, constantly being around fresh foods and majored in agronomy at Tuskegee where my Mom also attended college. My Mom took food to another level. We entertained a lot, but since Mom had decided to change our diet, she served healthier versions of traditional foods. For instance, instead of collard greens with fat back, she’d flavor them with smoked meats, or with just spices and no meat. Instead of fried chicken, she cooked sherry chicken, simmered in its own juices. she served foods that were very healthy but also delicious. We got known for that.

business
photo via Kristina O’Quinn for Bham Now

After high school, I attended Auburn University, then wanted to attend culinary school after graduation. I found a program in Denver, Colorado, called Garnish. It allowed me to get my culinary degree in only one year since I already had a bachelor’s degree from Auburn. There was a very diverse group of students there, and because everyone really wanted to be there, it was a great year.

When I finished culinary school, I wanted to do an internship somewhere else besides Birmingham, but nothing lined up. I couldn’t even find a place to intern in Birmingham. So I went back to work for family business, but kept wanting to work with food.

I finally got the opportunity to open a restaurant, Bitty’s Back Porch, in the Southern Progress Building. A friend said to create a name that people would remember and that would sound welcoming. Our slogan was “Fine cuisine with Southern Charm.” We did lots of vegan and vegetarian food.  Brunch at Bitty’s Back Porch on Saturdays was a huge hit. We took reservations, served on holidays, had large crowds, and always sold out. Unfortunately, though, after a year and a half, we had to move out.

I moved back in with my parents, who were ill at the time and began cooking for them. Within six months, my Mom was off of all of her insulin and diabetes medicines! Around this same time, after a trip to Bethesda Life Center, I became interested in becoming a holistic health coach, so I enrolled in the Institute of Innovative Nutrition, where I earned a certification after twelve months on online classes. This was a real turning point for me where I realized that I like eating certain foods, but what are these foods really doing to me?

My passion for food became clear at that point. I wanted to open a place, but wasn’t sure I was ready. when the Pizitz was opening. thourth the stalls were open Found out about co-starters and friends were dropping it in peripheral vision over and over. I decided that if I didn’t go through co-starters now, I never would. Co-Starters is a business training class where you get a ton of info for a nine week period of time. The contacts you make with other business developers who go through at the same time and people you are privy to in the business worlds is so much more valuable than a mixer where on you’re only shaking hands with folks.

photo via Bitty's Living Kitchen
photo via Bitty’s Living Kitchen

After completing Co-Starters, I applied for the Reveal Kitchen using info I learned through Co-Starters. Now I can be confident in sharing my “why” with people who come up to the stall every day, guiding through the options on the menu. We re-branded to Bitty’s Living kitchen. I feel like folks should have at least one “living” meal per day (fresh food). I also wanted people to feel like they are coming into a real kitchen. I want people to see that this isn’t fast food. I source my produce from the Urban Food project and local farmers when I can get them. I had someone approach me yesterday, offering to grow whatever produce I need for the restaurant!

I think that with food, it’s important to think outside the box. I want people to have options instead of having the same thing every time. Being able to offer that is great. Bitty’s is not just for vegans/vegetarians. I provide people with a way to eat something healthy and delicious; food they could fix at home but they happen to be eating out.

Atlanta has so many restaurants because people go there and eat at them. Even small places have a wait. There are great place here in Birmingham that don’t have the number of customers they need to stay open because there are so many options.Everything has its place. We need to be thinking of quality and offering more plant-based food. The beauty of this state is that there are so many farmers that have incredible produce, urban farms and students learning about foods. Farmers are partnering with restaurants and growing what they need. For someone to ask “can I grown that for you?” That’s incredible!

find out more at:www.bittyslivingkitchen.com

Here’s a guide to the Pizitz Food Hall:

https://bhamnow.com/index.php/2017/08/15/guide-pizitz-food-hall/