Kelly Liken began making sauces and
preserves to promote her restaurant and
her commitment to using local foods. Now,
she's working on expanding her retail line
with soups and cocktail mixes.
They require some attention and don’t lend
themselves to mechanization,” she says.
To protect her brand, Lang explains, she
had to find a manufacturer who shared
her values. That requires asking the right
questions, establishing guidelines upfront
and building a relationship.
“We finally have a co-packer for the figs
and raisins,” says Erickson. “After many
trial runs, we got it right.” Co-packing the
plums continues to be a work-in-progress,
so for now, she’s still doing them at the
restaurant. Because the onions are not
cost-effective to hand-pack, she’s looking
for a replacement.
Kelly Liken, chef/owner of Kelly Liken in
Vail, Colo., is taking the do-it-yourself route,
too, at least for now. Her first year in food
retailing was 2009. At the height of the
growing season, she was filling 300 canning
jars a day with sauces and preserves. She
sold them at the farmers market, as well as
paper bags of freshly fried organic potato
chips and her specialty dips, prepping about
a hundred 8-ounce containers a week.
Startup costs have been minimal, about
$1,000 for licensing fees and supplies,
including a pH meter to ensure that
every batch meets U.S. Food and Drug
Administration guidelines. She prints
labels on her computer, but hand-writes
stickers identifying the contents to give
every jar a sense of authenticity and show
that it’s not mass-produced. Products can
be special ordered by phone year-round.
She’s working on developing soups and
cocktail mixes, considering setting up an
e-commerce feature on her website and,
eventually, hiring some extra help.
“My days have gotten very long,” she admits,
“and I don’t sleep much anymore. But I’m
excited. This is how I’m going to become
well-known and make a name for myself.”
Restaurant Kelly Liken
Laura Taxel is a Cleveland-based journalist
and author who writes about food, chefs
and the restaurant business for consumer
and trade publications.
“The original idea was to promote the
restaurant and our commitment to using
local food by having a booth at the
market,” says Liken. “In this economy, you
have to think outside the box.”
She quickly realized there were other
benefits: Preserving Colorado produce
keeps it available beyond the short
growing season, and the merchandise
keeps her customers, many of whom live
in other parts of the country, connected to
the restaurant after they go home.