While the name may confuse some as the restaurant is blocks removed from its namesake, Kitchen on Klinton, which opened on Aug. 31, is the culmination of a two-year journey for four University of Louisiana at Lafayette graduates.
The dream began back in 2016 when Avery Bell, Corey McCoy, Jared Johnson and Tre’Jan Vinson, fraternity brothers in Kappa Alpha Psi, decided to take their chicken wings they made for friends and each other into food service and entrepreneurship.
“We started this business out of the back of our house, trying out our food with family and friends until we realized this could be a business,” Vinson said. “We all knew we wanted to be entrepreneurs. So we decided to start selling our food twice a week.”
At first, the four continued to serve their wares out of their home kitchen at 117 Clinton St. while also working their regular jobs. They set aside all the money they could, and within a year, they were able to build a food truck trailer to take their cooking on the road.
However, there was one oversight the four did not account for — funds to buy a truck to haul the trailer. Vinson said they had been turned down for a loan by numerous banks, but that didn’t stop them.
They rented a truck every time they needed to bring out the trailer to events like Mardi Gras in Franklin, which ate into most of their profits, but with some help from Acadiana Food Hub, the four behind KoK were able to press on and, in another year, were able to realize their dream and open the restaurant.
“It was great that we could help them start out," Acadiana Food Hub President Zack McMath said. "We could not be more proud of what they’ve done and are glad they’ve become a part of Lafayette’s culinary economy.”
Kitchen on Klinton is first and foremost a purveyor of bar food. While its key staples are fried chicken wings — traditional and boneless — and fully loaded fries, the restaurant also has a full bar and serves fried shrimp and fish with grilled items coming soon, Vinson said.
“This has been eye-opening — the possibilities of (opening our own restaurant),” McCoy said. “We look forward to being active in the community, not just the UL community, but the Lafayette community as well. We plan to use it to make an impact in areas we’re passionate about.”
KoK will be playing every Saints and UL-Lafayette games during the season to try to attract more of the college crowd and general sports fans to their restaurant. They also said they will continue to use their signature food trailer to cater events across Acadiana.
“We did all of this out of pocket," Vinson said. "We didn’t get paid for over two years. This time last year, I was eating ham sandwiches cause we couldn’t afford anything. That was our sacrifice as a whole, so it feels great to finally have our restaurant open.”
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