It's a question many of us ask every day, One that can inspire frustration and maybe even a bit of dread: "What's for dinner?"
"I think that 'What's for Dinner?' is truly everyone's existential crisis for the day because, truly, it's the one thing you don't want to think about," said Stephanie King, CEO and founder of Kitchen & Market.
Located, fittingly, in the heart of Seattle's iconic Pike Place Market, the goal at Kitchen & Market is simple: to make making dinner easier for everyone.
"The way I describe Kitchen & Market is if Trader Joe's and Dean & DeLuca made a Blue Apron baby," said King. "I put a lot of intention into (the store). Grocery shopping should not be painful. It should be pleasant, fun and delicious."
King is a self-proclaimed grocery nerd. She spent her career building private label brands for Whole Foods and Kroger before deciding she wanted to do it for herself. A predominantly female-driven company, King and her team thought through every detail of Kitchen & Market including, perhaps most crucially, the way the store is laid out.
"We all know what we're shopping for. Salads are salads. When you want to make a salad, put all the stuff for the salad in the same spot," explained King. "Everything is very much structured around what you're going to use and what you're going to need to make dinner."
Put simply, all the ingredients for a salad, from the lettuce to dressing, to various additions like cheese, pickled onions and croutons are all conveniently located in one area. The same goes for taco supplies or the ingredients necessary to make buffalo wings. That allows folks to get in-and-out, instead of wandering around aisles.
The store itself is anchored by a fully-loaded demo kitchen, designed to be a Costco sample station on steroids. While Kitchen & Market isn't offering samples right now (due to that whole pandemic thing), the plan is to have various bites coming out of that kitchen in the future.
"We all love going to Costco and getting samples and trying a product before we buy it. I truly believe in that part of the customer experience. You can ask any of our staff to try a product before you walk out of the store. We want you to try and experiment. I love food. Really. I love eating and I want everyone else to also," said King.
King says there are three distinct ways to experience Kitchen & Market. Customers can choose their own adventure, mixing and matching products like pre-seasoned meats and pre-made sauces to create their own meal, grab prepared options like sandwiches and soups, or pick up a meal kit. Each one includes everything you need to make a full meal in a half-hour or less.
"I have a general rule. If I'm going to cook, I want some leftovers or at least to not be hungry afterwards. Those are my two things, and my biggest complaints with a lot of meal kits was I found myself still hungry afterwards. So, I have to admit, we addressed that with (the meal kits) at Kitchen & Market," said King.
The team at Kitchen & Market, including executive chef Tori Mann, who previously ran the show at Lola, also created a number of products designed to simply make cooking easier.
"It's nice when you don't have to think about (dinner)," said King. "That's really what I want people to feel when they walk out of here is, 'wow, you just helped solve a problem for me and you made my night a lot more pleasant and delicious'. So, that's our goal."
Follow Seattle Refined's Brandon Burnstead on Instagram.