Photo: Refire Kitchen
In what might be surprising to many, the new Refire Kitchen was launched during these difficult times, as the food service industry continues to struggle with COVID-19 and the ongoing restrictions. Offering high-quality fresh or frozen meals to bake at home, Refire, a term known in the restaurant business for heating food to perfect temperature, has now become a local brand, capturing the hearts and appetites of people in Victoria.
Founders Tod Bosence, Brian Newham, and Rob Curtis share a long history in the restaurant industry, having worked together previously at Hotel Rialto in various capacities within core management. Their combined talents, knowledge, and experience in the hospitality and food service industry are what make this trio suited to a business such as Refire Kitchen. Bosence brings his expertise as an executive chef along with Newham, a Red Seal Chef and top bartender. Curtis’ skills as a graphic designer and marketing specialist complements this amazing group of entrepreneurs.
The spark for Refire Kitchen began last spring, as Bosence began preparing meals for his wife who worked locally as a nurse. Enticed by the amazing meals he created, her co-workers soon began asking to purchase these meals for their own families. Word spread quickly in the community and soon Bosence recognized the potential for Newham and Curtis to join him in this new business concept.
“We didn’t know we had a business until Tod was in the midst of making shepherd’s pies,” Curtis said. Orders began flying in and soon they were busy, arranging for Tuesday and Thursday pickups as more customers signed on. Since that time they have moved the business out of their homes and are currently renting a kitchen downtown; future plans include building their own kitchen to custom suit the needs of their growing business, which requires a facility with ample assembly space.
By December, Refire Kitchen opened its storefront at 843 Fort St. where customers can stop by to pick up their online orders and also shop, choosing from fresh or freezer stock. Refire Kitchen prides itself in developing and creating food that is wholesome and delicious and will come back from frozen to taste as good as fresh.
“The path we’ve gone down is very comfort oriented,” states Curtis, and this is evident with the popularity of their top sellers such as shepherd’s pie and lasagna. “We don’t make apologies for making our food comfort food and our customers appreciate it. It’s as homey as it can possibly be. We’re all about flavour and our recipes are tried and tweaked and then tested again.”
While Refire Kitchen has a website, and a Facebook and Instagram account, Curtis explains they have purposely kept their marketing budget small. Given the popularity and momentum that Refire Kitchen has gained in such a short time, it’s evident that word of mouth has been key to their success, as more and more people begin to hear about their quality meals and products. Unlike most takeouts where food is prepared in a restaurant, bagged up, and then taken home, Refire Kitchen is slightly different. “We are a hybrid between home cooking and takeout,” Curtis says, “because you cook it at home and it’s taken out of your oven when it’s best.”
Refire Kitchen’s menu of comfort foods includes the popular shepherd’s pie, lasagna, pulled pork mac & cheese, butter chicken, jambalaya, and more, along with soups, dips, and salads. As much as possible, they try to source many of the ingredients locally; their tasty chicken and seafood jambalaya, for example, features Whole Beast Island farm-roasted chicken. At the end of the day, Curtis states, “you live and die by the quality of your food. Long-term, we have to make sure customers come back.”
No business is without its challenges, but Refire Kitchen has created a successful startup during the pandemic. Curtis admits that the biggest challenge has been learning a new business. “Our background has been restaurant business, but food/retail is a different mechanism,” he said. They have been successfully figuring it out, though, as evidenced by the consistently wonderful reviews they receive online and via email.
Refire Kitchen offers exceptional value; as Curtis notes, each meal costs about $5 to $7 per serving. They also provide delivery throughout the Greater Victoria area, including Westshore, at an incredibly reasonable rate of only $4 per delivery.
Above all, Refire Kitchen is committed to being part of this community. “We really want to curate a business where our staff is like our family and our customers are like our family,” Curtis says. “We want customers to feel welcome when they walk through the door… It’s a culture that is going to go forward.” So the next time you’re looking for exceptional takeout that comes straight from your own oven, visit Refire Kitchen. It’s a mouth-watering option at any time and for any occasion.
Address: 843 Fort St., Victoria