Williamsport, Pa. – Healthier food options – with more convenience – is the basis behind Williamsport's newest eatery.
Convenience of food access was logistically exasperated by the coronavirus pandemic, as millions of individuals suddenly had no idea where their next meal was going to come from.
Carnie Datres found a way to simultaneously address this problem while creating a sustainable business model for herself.
Kitchen Repose, located at 145 West 4th St. in Williamsport, is a “meal preparation/delivery service” which has their own carry-out store front across from Plankenhorn's Stationary.
According to a release by the Williamsport/Lycoming County Chamber of Commerce, “Kitchen Repose is a cafe, and meal preparation/delivery service. Meal orders can be placed online through our website. We offer doorstep meal delivery to Williamsport and the surrounding areas.”
The release also said “the cafe will also be the home of fun classes, events and educational workshops.”
Williamsport Mayor Derek Slaughter was on hand for the official ribbon cutting.
“The food is fantastic. We are pleased to welcome them to downtown Williamsport,” Slaughter said before the official opening.
Jason Fink, President/CEO of the Williamsport/Lycoming County Chamber of Commerce, was optimistic about Kitchen Repose and the work Datres is doing.
“I think Carnie’s going to do very good with it. Definitely something that more people are considering as a way to take care of dinner. With the storefront, it should help her grow more by exposing people to all she’s capable of doing,” said Fink.
Before the official cutting outside, Fink mentioned that every one could be together inside more quickly if they go get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“If people want the Governor to remove the mask order, we only need another 7% of the state to get vaccinated. Realistically, we could see that accomplished by the end of June,” Fink continued.
Datres graduated from Penn State with a degree in Nutritional Sciences, and became a registered dietitian before entering the business world.
“After spending a couple years working in hospitals doing nutrition counseling, I realized I wanted to take a more hands on and preventative approach to nutrition,” said Carnie Datres, the founder of Kitchen Repose.
“As a side gig, I spent a summer cooking breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for a family friend and realized that many others would likely benefit from a local, healthy meal delivery service,” Datres continued.
In 2014, Datres constructed a licensed kitchen in her basement which offered dinner delivery options.
“As a one-woman-show I stayed busy with shopping, prepping, cooking, packaging and delivering meals throughout the area while also bringing three kids into the world,” she explained.
In 2019, she rebranded with hopes of expanding her services from doorstep delivery only to include classes, workshops, events and in person opportunities.
Then, in Aug. 2020, Kitchen Repose moved to downtown Williamsport and brought in more kitchen staff and delivery drivers.
Kitchen Repose has already been serving the community at large, providing services to many area non-profit organizations, including the Kiwanis; Junior League of Williamsport; and AIDS Resource, which serves 10 NorthCentral Pa counties.
Since the pandemic, AIDS Resource had to retool many of their services, like meal deliveries.
“We switched to them in the fall. Their food is amazing. It’s nutritious and delicious. I’ve lost 70 pounds in the past year,” said Kirsten Felix Burkhart, Executive Director of AIDS Resource.
If the mayor and head of a local nonprofit are fans of Kitchen Repose, it appears so are the clients of that organization.
“One of our clients sent us a note that said, ‘If I was the type of person to keep a diary, yesterday I would have written: Dear Diary, I just ate the best chicken salad ever,’” Burkhart said about Kitchen Repose.
Datres feels confident about what is next for her business.
“We are constantly coming up with new ideas,” Datres said.
“We want to continue to grow doorstep delivery, expand our reach beyond the Williamsport area."
“We want to get cooking classes and events back up and running again soon. A little further down the road, we hope to take our business model to new locations,” she said.