Almost a year ago, Kristi Calbert obtained her business license for cooking and serving food in Norwood when she began helping the The Hitchin’ Post serve breakfast. Then, she made many connections and introduced folks to her biscuits and gravy, buttermilk waffles, local sausage and more. Her debut at the Hitch didn’t last too long though, mostly because she wanted to run her own business, which wasn’t possible inside of the “Hitch.” Now, Calbert’s restaurant dream is set to come true at the Back Narrows Inn, as she slides into the spot the Divide has left vacant. 

Kristi’s Kitchen is set to open in February, and she’ll serve breakfast and lunch for the town. Calbert said the hotel space is ideal for her, as she will rent kitchen space from owner Jerry Nolan and still operate her own food business. 

She said she’s happy she got her start at the Hitch, because it required her to do the legwork of establishing food accounts and having proper licensure. She said the experience prepared her to be ready to go once she heard the hotel space was available.

Another bonus, she said, was people also got introduced to her style of cooking last year; many have been asking her when she might begin a new restaurant space. 

Calbert has much experience in the business. She previously managed the Happy Belly Deli years ago when Julie Thorneycroft owned it. Later she ran her own bakery business. She’s also worked for Barclay Daranyi, owner of Indian Ridge Farm. Most recently, she’s been helping Thorneycroft again at her main street bakery. 

And, she used to help Lori Thayer do BIN Bakery pizza nights. She's sometimes catered events and weddings in the area, too.

She’s still working with preschool kids at Prime Time Early Learning Center, teaching them the basics of gardening and raising their own food. She said she’ll continue her work with the preschoolers, even after her new restaurant space is open. 

Calbert’s goal is to be open for business on Feb. 1, serving Thursdays through Mondays. (She’ll be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.)

Her same breakfast menu will continue, and for lunch, the public can plan for burgers with local beef, soups and beans and rice. She’ll also have coffee drinks available, including espresso. 

She said she agreed that she can help fill a real need in Norwood right now, especially since the Happy Belly Deli has dissolved for the time being. 

Overall, she said she looks forward to getting started. She added that summertime should be special, because of the outdoor patio space the hotel makes available for patrons. 

Calbert said she thanks her husband Joe Fehrenbacker for his support in helping to establish Kristi’s Kitchen. She said he may be helping her some, especially on weekends. 

Calbert also said the Norwood restaurant community has wished her well. 

“I get along with Scott Romaine and Julie Thorneycroft, and Spencer and Lana Cooper,” she said. “I’m friendly with the whole food community, and they are super helpful. They’re supportive. I hope to do well. It feels like it’s a good time to do it.”