Scott Payne, father of four, knows how difficult it can be to provide children with nutritious meals when both parents are working.
“It’s tough,” Payne said. “We are being pulled in a million different directions.”
Payne also recognizes the importance of teaching children how to make their own decisions about their food. That’s why he’s opening Colorado’s first Little Kitchen Academy later this year.
Little Kitchen Academy is a Montessori-inspired cooking class program for children ages 3-18. Felicity and Brian Curin opened the first Little Kitchen in 2019 in Vancouver, Canada, and launched the concept in the United States last summer with a location in Los Angeles. The three-hour classes give students plenty of time to explore their individual cooking stations and it gives their caregivers plenty of time to check off items on their to-do lists.
“We give kids the opportunity in our three-hour classes to explore and build their confidence, and learn to stand up for themselves and make decisions on their own,” said Felicity, who worked for Earls Restaurants and led its expansion into the United States.
Little Kitchen counts Cat Cora of “Iron Chef” fame as an advocate and brand ambassador. Cora partnered with Little Kitchen because “it reflects my vision for the future of our children with food,” according to a statement on Little Kitchen website.
Payne, also a Goldfish Swim School franchisee since 2012, became interested in Little Kitchen because of its mission to teach children to cook with healthy, locally grown foods.
“I thought to myself, ‘Here’s another brand that provides kids with life skills that can take them very far in life,'” said Payne, who along with business partner Keith Lubin has signed on as as regional developers to eventually open 20 units across Colorado.
Brian’s franchise background – he co-founded Flip Flop Shops and worked in franchise development at Moe’s Southwest Grill and Bahama Buck’s – gave Payne confidence in his decision to join the brand at such an early stage. Eight sites are open, including 146 under development.
“At the end of the day, when we met, we met and we sat down and we both realized that we might not have all the answers yet, but we’re going to find out because we both believe in the mission,” Payne said.
Felicity became passionate about Montessori teaching when her daughter was in kindergarten. The Montessori Method, created by Italian physician Maria Montessori in the early 1900s, is a less formal way of teaching than the traditional style of education.
“It allows children to feel the freedom and confidence to explore their inner needs,” Felicity said, “where they hone their senses and learn to talk about their inner needs and urges to become these beautiful humans. “
The cost to open a Little Kitchen franchise ranges from $367,953 to $627,586, including franchise fees of $40,000 to $49,500, and the royalty is 6% of gross sales. Little Kitchen targets 10 US states, three Canadian provinces and seven countries.
For Brian, an ideal franchise candidate would be “nice, like someone we would be proud of”. For Felicity, a Little Kitchen franchisee must “understand that our children deserve only the best”.
“We need to provide them with every opportunity possible to feel confident and grow into the beautiful humans they are already meant to be,” she said.
The Little Kitchen Academy is free for parents, where kids have room to explore their individual cooking stations and all the tools that come with it. Each student chooses a chef’s jacket and a pair of chef’s shoes, and has a station with their own oven, stove, tools and KitchenAid mixer, “similar to the ones they see at home”, a said Felicity.
One of her favorite memories in Little Kitchen so far is when she heard a student cheering for breaking an egg. “‘Mom will never have to break an egg again because now I can help,'” she recalled telling the student.
“There’s nothing more fun than watching 10 little kids jump off our pitch happy, thriving, and ready to share what they’ve done with their families,” Felicity said.
The activity and education of children is a growing franchise segment, with new entrants including coding schools and even esports concepts such as XP League competing for the attention of parents and children. investment by franchisees. Little Kitchen aims to hit the trends that both bands are looking for.
“It’s so relevant today – it’s kids, it’s education, it’s Montessori, it’s food, it’s health, it’s wellness,” Brian said. “He’s firing on all cylinders.”
The brand aims to create a safe environment for children to explore and achieve.
“Our goal is for every child that comes in to come out an inch taller proudly because they know they’ll be fine, they know they can contribute, they know they can be responsible,” Brian said. .