MONTHLY INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
Hear from industry leaders about their guilty pleasures, the oddest thing in their refrigerator, their inspirations and take on new trends. Learn more about the people behind the foods and dishes you know and love - and others you SHOULD know and love. We've asked all of questions and have the answers for you here.
February 2020 Edition
Allison Kave & Keavy Landreth
What were your culinary backgrounds before meeting one another?
AK: I had a pie business called First Prize Pies, and Keavy had a mini cupcake company called Kumquat Cupcakery. We were both selling at local markets with a bit of wholesale and catering scattered in, and were both ready to expand to a brick-and-mortar shop around the same time.
What piqued your interests and made you want to bake?
AK: I’ve been baking since I was a child. My whole family is very food-focused (my mom is a chocolatier and my brother is a chef), and it sort of became my niche within our family - Thanksgiving pies were always my job! I love that it combines creativity with precision, much like bartending.
KL: I also come from a very food focused family. To give you an example, my mother used to carry around a notebook to every restaurant she went to so she could take notes on the meal - this is before the internet so these notes were just for her.
I’ve never actually been trained in baking, and because I have no patience for measuring, it’s never been my strong suit. I do however have a deep, deep love of sweets, and some pretty strong opinions on how they should taste, so when tasked with creating something I give it my all till I think it’s perfect. (let’s just hope I wrote down the recipe)
Were there any particular people or chefs that inspired you to follow this career path?
AK: My brother and mother were both big professional inspirations for me. I’ve also always loved Julia Child and really admire Carole Walter and Dorie Greenspan as well.
KL: My mother my mother my mother. And Martha Stewart of course (because my mother idealized her).
Which one of you introduced the idea of starting a business together and what inspired you to do so?
AK: Keavy was the first to plant the seed of this idea. We had met through a mutual friend and were both selling our desserts at Smorgasbord when she reached out to me to float the idea of partnering on a retail location. We had both reached the ceiling of what we could do within our current operations, and it was time to grow. Then it was just a matter of coming up with a concept (and fundraising, and hiring, and training, and…)!
You both started out selling baked goods at an artisan and food market. Did you ever think the booth you opened at that market would ever turn into something more?
AK: I definitely had ambition to grow, but wasn’t sure what form that would take.
KL: For sure. I’ve always had dreams of opening my own space. Growing up near Seattle in the 90’s, my 14-year-old dream was a coffee shop, bar, bakery, art space, AND music venue. I’m happy I reeled it in a little.
How did you come up with the name “Butter & Scotch” and was it the original name?
KL: Allison and I had been brainstorming names for a while but nothing had stuck. We knew we wanted it to be equal parts sweets and booze so one didn’t take more importance over the other. I was at my cousin’s wedding when someone mentioned something about drinking too much scotch and the idea just popped into my head. I text Allison right then to tell her and she loved it!
What inclined you to sell cocktails along with your desserts?
AK: I had been moonlighting as a bartender for years, and became really passionate about cocktails. When we started brainstorming ideas for our joint venture, the concept of combining desserts and cocktails just made sense to us. They really complement each other, and I know that when I’m tipsy I always want sweets!
Did you ever anticipate your femini
st agendas becoming such a big part of your business?
AK: When we started I didn’t foresee that as being a major part of the business, but the fact that we’ve been owned and operated by women since the start has always been a noteworthy component of Butter & Scotch.
When you realized the feminist personality was becoming a prominent characteristic of your business, how did you begin positioning yourself in that way and use it to your advantage?
KL: Like Allison mentioned, this wasn’t a conscious decision but was something that naturally happened because we are women and enjoy propping other women up, especially in a field that is still very male dominated. We didn’t fully come out as a “feminist bar” till the 2016 election when we felt it was important to speak up instead of staying quiet. It was more of a personal (and staff) decision over a business one.
Once you took this approach, did you find yourselves having more business than before?
AK: Yes, when we launched our Winter of Women cocktail menu right after the 2016 presidential election, we saw record numbers of guests in January of 2017, which normally is a very slow month for bars and restaurants.
What are some of the greatest fears you’ve had to overcome to get where you are today?
AK: I think that any entrepreneur has to be willing to take risks and let go of the safety net of being employed by other people. You take on responsibility not just for yourself, but for your staff and your guests. That is a lot of pressure and for me was really difficult, but I’ve learned so much and it’s help me overcome a lot of anxiety.
KL: I think one of the biggest fears/insecurities that I’ve had to overcome is asking for, and knowing I’m worthy of, money. In order to open anything, you need a lot of money and unless you are coming from a job in finance you are probably going to have to ask someone else to trust you enough to give it to you. It’s terrifying.
What does the future of Butter & Scotch look like? Do you have any new innovative ideas for how the business is run or even for menu ideas?
KL: We are currently working on opening a coffee shop and bakery that will operate as our production kitchen for all the baked goods. By doing that we will be able to turn our current kitchen space into a private event space that customers will be able to utilize. We are also hoping to take this opportunity, with our current GM transitioning over to partner and being stationed at the new bakery full time, to prop up a current or past employee and bring them on as GM and possible partner down the line.
Bonus Question: If you were a kangaroo, what 3 items would you keep in your pouch at all times? Why?
AK: Red lipstick, dice, and business cards; because I want to have fun, take care of business, and look great while I do it!
KL: Red Lipstick, wine, and our salted chocolate chip cookies - not sure an explanation is needed! If a bowling alley fit in there I would put that too.