Kitchen Combine launches a new concept

January 19, 2024
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Eatie's chef Constance Pullam shows off an order of her fried catfish.

By Amanda Rogers

Mansfield Record

When Ray Pryor and Jerrod Lemmons opened Kitchen Combine last month, they didn’t let the fact that neither has any restaurant experience bother them. Neither one plans to do any cooking.

The new restaurant will feature a different chef with a different cuisine every month, a new concept dreamed up by the co-owners.

“We provide the tables, chairs, staffing, all the equipment, the POS (point of sale) technology,” Pryor said. “The chefs don’t need to worry about anything except their food and the protégés they are bringing with them.”

Constance Pullam, owner of Eatie’s catering, was the first person the co-owners called. Pullam has been catering full-time for seven years, specializing in Southern cuisine like smothered pork chops, fried catfish, greens and macaroni and cheese.

“I’ve never heard of anything like this where you feature a new cuisine every month, I’ve never heard of this ever,” Pullam said.

Pryor and Lemmons, who is also Pryor’s father-in-law, were looking for a way to go into business together.

Jerrod Lemmons, Triniti Lemmons, Jaida Pryor and Ray Pryor have formed a family business to run Kitchen Combine.

“We studied brick and mortar restaurants and how people market them,” Pryor said. “We struggled to find something like this so we had to create it ourselves.

“We saw people that work extremely hard,” he said. “We figured there’s got to be a better way for people to try without being trapped into debt. “

The family business, which includes Jaida Pryor, Dee Lemmons and Triniti Lemmons, is looking for chefs that are currently catering or running food trucks.

“Some want to get into grocery stores, some want more food trucks,” Pryor said. “Some come in and find out this is not what they want.”

Pullam, who ran her own restaurant in Denton for two years, said starting a business can be an expensive lesson.

“You are not going to find a place with a lease less than 12 to 18 months,” she said. “You might get in and say ‘What have I done?’ Then you’re stuck.”

Pullam said Kitchen Combine is perfect for her.

“I love this concept,” she said. “It gives food entrepreneurs like me more visibility. People are able to come in here and see what I can do. Then they can contact me for catering.”

She also appreciates the support from the restaurant owners.

“They don’t just drop you off and say ‘Good luck!’ They are still supporting you,” she said. “Their marketing is second to none. It has gotten me so much visibility.”

The chefs are not leasing the space, Pryor explained, they are part of the business.

“We’re not a landlord,” he said. “This is 50/50. It’s a win/win.”

The chefs and the Kitchen Combine owners split the profits, so if the restaurant does well, they both win, he said.

“Ray told me what was selling, what wasn’t working,” Pullam said. “People have to believe in you and believe in your brand. If they don’t believe in you, it shows on their face. Everybody that works here has a smile on their face.”

Lemmons and Pryor recognize how difficult it is to run a food business.

“I’ve been shot at and shot people,” said Lemmons, a former Dallas police officer. “This profession is the most challenging, almost debilitating.”

Kitchen Combine is still interviewing chefs for the upcoming months. For the rest of January, Eatie’s and Pullam will be in residence.

The restaurant at 8021 Matlock Road, Suite 109 is open from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

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