Ensconced in the Madison Collective at 727 N. Henry St., Kimberly Sickmen has a lot to be grateful for indeed. At the top of her list? Her months-old eatery, Grateful Kitchen, which aims to bring fresh, healthy food to the city.
“Our whole mission is to educate people on why eating organic is so vital and so important,” Sickmen said. “There’s a direct relationship between what you put in your body and how you feel.”
The Grateful Kitchen concept is an expansion of Sickmen’s juice company, Grateful Juice. Originally a way for her to give healthy nutrients to the students at her hot yoga studio, Zweet Sport, “It was more popular than I thought it was going to be,” she said. Her on-the-side juice making led to a more concerted effort in a commercial kitchen, which led, in a fashion, to Grateful Kitchen several years later.
As the owner of Zweet Sport Hot Yoga, Grateful Juice and Zweet Sport Total Fitness, Sickmen had plenty on her plate. But a building in the newly formed Madison Collective came up for rent and Sickmen “moved Total Fitness and siphoned off a piece for Grateful Kitchen,” she said.
“At that point I had also met the guy who’s now my chef (Stephen Hardy) and we had started to talk about food, and I knew that I wanted to add a food element to (the company). So this is basically the next phase,” she said. “We make all the juice here – we still bottle and make it all here – but we also have a full breakfast and what we call our savory menu.”
Grateful Kitchen opened its doors on Oct. 14, 2018 and, Sickmen says, the reception from the neighborhood has been promising.
“The overall consensus from the community is that it was really needed, and I agree; as somebody who wants to eat organic and healthy, there’s really nothing in Old Town,” she said.
But don’t dare equate “healthy” with “bland.” Grateful Kitchen’s menu runs the gamut and brings a lot of zest along with its meals.
“Right now we have something that’s amazing; it’s called our forbidden black rice bowl,” Sickmen said. “Basically it’s black rice and it’s cooked down for a couple of hours; it’s got ginger in it, and cilantro, and shallot, and then our chef takes steamed kale, puts the rice on top of the steamed kale, and adds a perfectly soft-boiled egg.”
As a local small businesswoman herself, Sickmen places an emphasis on supporting other local businesses as well. Bread comes from Bread and Water in Belle Haven; salmon comes from Manolo and Son.
“We want to support as many local purveyors as possible,” she said.
If You Go
GRATEFUL KITCHEN, 727 N. Henry St., Alexandria
Hours: 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday-Friday; 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; closed Tuesday.
Fun fact: “Everything in our space is all compostable,” says owner Kimberly Sickmen. “All of our utensils, all of our cups, all of our to-go boxes will break down in a landfill in 180 days.”
Hope Nelson owns and operates the Kitchen Recessionista blog, located at www.kitchenrecessionista.com. Email her any time at email@example.com.