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Quimby's Little Kitchen really gives folks the bird

Monday, November 21, 2005

(Photo)
By Ron Flewelling

If you happen to be wandering down the main street of Quimby and discover that you have a sudden craving to wrap yourself around a plate of deep-fried chicken, don't be surprised.

It's probably just your sensory reaction to the tantalizing aroma emanating from the Little Kitchen, southern Cherokee County's newest eatery and living proof that getting the bird can indeed be a good thing.

When the Little Kitchen's doors opened for the first time early last summer, it marked a number of changes for owner, manager and head cook Dave Bulgrin, the least of which transplanted him 1800 miles from his old home town.

Dave Bulgrin is a native Californian who grew up in the San Bernadino area.

Although Bulgrin's career in sunny California centered around the drapery cleaning business, he found himself becoming more and more stressed out as the years went by.

"Let me put it this way," Dave said. "California was a great place to grow up but it was fast becoming a not-so-great place to live."

"The heavy traffic, air pollution, a rising crime rate and other day-to-day headaches all combined to really put a strain on your stress threshold."

This, added to the realization that the drapery cleaning business was a dying profession, soon had Bulgrin contemplating making some serious changes in his life, possibly even starting his own business.

"A little over a year ago," he continued. "I was visiting relatives in Cherokee County while on vacation. I dropped in on my cousin Janane Ebert in Quimby and immediately liked the community."

It was during this visit that the idea of operating a small town cafe began to germinate.

A few months later, after his return to California, he was contacted by his cousin who told him that a building on Quimby's main street was up for sale, if he was interested.

Bulgrin was, and after a few inquiries, purchased the structure, the former home of Connie's Place, sight unseen.

The next several months were a whirlwind of activity for Bulgrin as he carried out extensive remodeling labors on his new purchase.

Eventually, the building was successfully refurbished and it was time to launch his new business.

"I'll have to admit I was having second thoughts and a bit of an attack of stage fright as opening day loomed on the horizon" Bulgrin said with a smile. "After all, my only experience in the prepared food industry was when I'd worked at a taco stand as a teenager."

"I knew it would be important to specialize," he continued. "So I decided my first goal was to have the best chicken in the area."

"I was also aware that to be successful, it was definitely necessary that the food was delivered hot and in a timely manner."

On June 4, the Little Kitchen was officially opened for business, a red letter date welcomed by the folks of Quimby who had been without a restaurant for over two years.

The first days were just a tad hectic for Bulgrin as he received some on-the-job education in his new career.

"I was really lucky when I hired Casandra Simmons to help out in the kitchen," Bulgrin noted. "She really helped me fine-tune the business and taught me a whole lot about cooking for a large group of people."

In the five months since the Little Kitchen's griddles were fired up for the first time, Bulgrin continues keeping his fingers on the culinary pulse of his community.

In fact, he spends a lot of time visiting with his customers, welcoming their input, advice and criticism on the Little Kitchen's menu and service.

Bulgrin's formula is proving to be successful because his restaurant is fast growing beyond chicken.

The Little Kitchen's bill-of-fare now includes burgers of all kinds as well as other fast food sandwiches, and noon specials every day the likes of fish and chips, hot beef sandwiches, burger baskets, Iowa boneless pork chops and many other items.

Take-out orders are also a popular service on the Little Kitchen's culinary agenda, making up an estimated 15 percent of the cafe's business.

When asked what was on his wish list for his restaurant, Bulgrin replied, "We hope to start serving steaks to order very soon. A featured Sunday brunch would also be great!"

Although it has been an admitted wild ride launching his new business, Bulgrin doesn't regret his decision one bit.

"I love living in Iowa," he said. "People are really friendly and are always willing to lend a helping hand."

The Little Kitchen is located on Quimby's main street right across from the library.

Its hours of operation are from 11 a.m. till 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

So, if you get down Quimby way, stop in at the Little Kitchen and say hello to Dave, and while you're there, you might as well have a couple pieces of their featured Flavor Crisp deep fried chicken.

Heck, it might even have you saying, "Colonel Who?"



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