CLEVELAND — This next chapter for Cleveland chef Ben Bebenroth begins almost exactly one-year to the day the pandemic forced him shutter Spice Kitchen & Bar in Gordon Square.
Warning signs about the sustainability of sit-down dining were popping up long before the pandemic.
“We were watching a lot of changes happen in the restaurant industry over the last three to five years,” Ben Bebenroth said.
The coronavirus not only escalated those concerns, but they forced those like Bebenroth, who wanted to stay in the game, to quickly shift their focus.
News 5 just toured the new 10,000 square-foot production kitchen giving the Cleveland chef another chance to say, "we're open."
To get to this point, it has taken nearly two-years of construction.
“We just moved into 5601 Tillman Ave.,” said Bebenroth.
It’s where Bebenroth is about to start his next culinary adventure.
“We’re trying to meet our guests and our customers in a place where they’re eating the majority of their meals, which is home and work,” said Bebenroth.
Bebenroth is tapping into the carry-out craze with his new concept, Keep the Change Kitchen Collective.
“Which is a virtual food hall. So, it’s preorder to pick up or delivery,” said Bebenroth.
Options range from chicken dishes to hearty salads, along with noodle and rice bowls.
“We’ve seen a need for healthier to go food options. We wanted to change the food market and help you feel better tomorrow about you ate today,” said Bebenroth.
Bebenroth is also taking the health of our environment into consideration.
"None of the compost yards take this biodegradable plastic anymore," said Bebenroth.
Keep the Change Kitchen is working towards using carbon neutral packaging that can be used up to 90 times.
“Now we can pick up these containers and we can rinse, reuse, repeat,” said Bebenroth.
They designed the prepared meals coming out of the kitchen in Gordon Square to last several days.
“That’s giving some variety to people’s week that doesn’t require shopping, prepping and food waste,” said Bebenroth.
Keep the Change Kitchen Collective will have a soft-opening March 17 to 20 and will then take orders from the public on the March 24.
It is only open Wednesdays-Saturdays.
And no, if your total is $19.73 and you pay with a $20, you have the option to let the restaurant "keep the change."
The food hall's name is a nod to the pandemic.
“That’s kind of why we named Keep the Change what it is, because we made a lot of changes in our personal lives, we made a lot of changes in the business,” said Bebenroth.