When chef/owner Ross Webb opened R. Kitchen, one of his biggest goals was to create a "fun and communal" space for the culinary collective. With a few bumps along the way, Webb finally fell into a groove of packed reservations and five-star ratings. In the beginning, his plan was to serve lunch and dinner, but midday meals disappeared when Webb realized folks were really there for the 5-course dinners for $30. To concentrate on those courses, Webb nixed lunch. "We figured it out as we went along," he told us, "It's what I envisioned but better." R. Kitchen didn't advertise, so Webb says, "We had to tell those early customers, we'll make it affordable and good, if you trust us."
What most customers find enthralling about R. Kitchen (other than the affordability) is the breakdown of the wall between back-of-house and front-of-house staff. Webb and his chefs cook directly in front of the guests and are the ones serving the plates. "When we first opened, I'd often forget to give people steak knives on their meat course," Webb says of his first few months learning service. Chefs Josh Woodruff, Cham Boyd, and David Yarinsky joined Webb in his endeavors at R. Kitchen within the first year. Woodruff has taken on the role of executive chef and says he says really enjoys coming up with new menus every night.
Woodruff thinks being in touch with the customers and getting feedback nightly keeps R. Kitchen on top of its game. Webb attributes the restaurant's success to staying small: "We say we're going to serve 40 guests a night, and we stick to that." That limited number of patrons is what keeps the reservations rare and highly-prized. R. Kitchen offers seatings at 6:00 p.m., 7:30 p.m., and 9:00 p.m. Woodruff suggests booking two weeks ahead if you really want a space for dinner.
For year two, Webb says he wants another restaurant and to put Woodruff in charge of the current eatery. He's looking for something small, but not necessarily another R. Kitchen.
Correction: an earlier version of this piece misstated the current price of R. Kitchen's 5-course dinners.