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Italian Kitchen celebrates two decades
The world has changed a lot since 1994. The sitcom Friends debuted and cell phones were only a luxury.
The Italian Kitchen, though, on 30th Avenue in downtown Vernon, is here to stay.
“I don’t think we will ever change,” said Brad Brousseau.
Owner and operator, Brousseau has been there from day one.
The Italian Kitchen just celebrated its 20th anniversary two weeks ago with friends, business partners and the rest of the community.
“We had people at our anniversary party that were at our grand opening party,” said Brousseau.
Brousseau moved to Vernon from Vancouver 21 years ago to start up a restaurant.
The Italian Kitchen opened up on April 13, 1994. The restaurant has been packed ever since.
“It can be a casual dinner with friends or we have even had wedding dinners here,” said Brousseau.
The Italian Kitchen has a very nostalgic feel to it.
The foundation remains the same on the inside from when the building was originally a cafe in 1937.
The creak of the chocolate-brown floors on every step takes patrons back to the building’s roots 80 years ago.
The forest-green tin ceiling still echoes dinner time small talk and the rustic brick walls provide a sense of home-town comfort. Brousseau even kept the open-faced kitchen in the front of the restaurant.
It is no fluke that the Italian Kitchen continues to go strong. The company has hands-on leadership that is here for the long haul.
“We have had great partners and we make sure we hire great staff and take the time to nurture them. It’s not unusual to have chefs work here for 10 years at a time,” said Brousseau.
Katie Bellamy has been a owner-operator at the Italian Kitchen for two years.
Bellamy has been a waitress all her life and her mother had a restaurant while she was growing up.
Bellamy is also an owner of the UPS in Vernon.
Using her connections through her other work, the Italian Kitchen came out with its first cook book two years ago.
“This book gives a brand to our store, it’s something we have never had before. Now our name is in stores all over Vernon,” said Bellamy.
Brousseau isn’t worried about putting his ingredients into a book for the public. Even the ingredients to their signature dish, the mussels.
“We see it as no recipe is original. Each recipe is copied, borrowed or stolen,” said Brousseau.
Another thing that hasn’t changed in two-decades, is the menu.
“People like consistency. The people of Vernon already know what they are going to have, they don’t even need a menu,” said Bellamy.
Just over a year ago, the Italian Kitchen started selling spaghetti sauces.
They have three different spaghetti sauces, a pizza sauce and a hot sauce. All of the sauces are made each morning in house.
The spaghetti sauces are now sold in over 100 stores across B.C.
As for many major changes, such as expansion, Brousseau says, “I doubt it.”
He likes the fact that he can focus all of his efforts on the Italian Kitchen.