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New concept cooking in West Knox County

Bill and Mary Lou Butler know all too well the stress of trying to provide their family good, nutritious meals while maintaining the lightning-pace required in modern society. In order to help alleviate the stress involved in meal preparation, they will be opening a new business in August called Creating Dinner at 10412 Kingston Pike, next door to Bill Jones Music.

“We live in a fast-paced society and everybody is on the go,” Bill Butler said. “Not everyone has the time or the desire to go to the grocery store and then go home and cook.”

According to a researcher with the University of Minnesota, family meals have been a time-honored ritual and an important part of American culture. The sharing of food at meals has been a symbol of family unity, love, connections and communication. Surveys indicate that more than 80 percent of parents view family dinners as important. Adolescents also value family meals. A national survey found that 79 percent of teens cited eating dinner at home as one of their top-rated family activities.

While sharing family meals together may be valued among parents and youth, this can be difficult to achieve on a regular basis. Studies show that about a third of adolescents surveyed eat dinner with their family every day. About 60 percent of teens have dinner with their family at least five times a week. About 22 to 32 percent of teens reported eating dinner with their family rarely or a few days each week.

“We want people to have time for family again,” Butler said.

He said the concept is a simple one. Customers will begin by reserving a kitchen session time on the Web site, Customers would have a choice of preparing six, nine or 12 entrees during their kitchen session. Entrees will cost about $125 for six to around $225 for 12 entrees.

“Each of the entrees will serve four to six people,” Butler said. “We’ll have everything cut and prepared so all the customer has to do is put it together.”

A wide variety of dishes will be available. The menu for the month of August, for example, includes entrée items such as broccoli and ham bake, citrus port stir fry, shrimp with Caribbean rum marinade, apple horseradish glazed salmon and a host of other dishes.

Upon arrival at the selected time, Butler said customers would be taken to one of seven workstations where the ingredients for their particular entrée would already be set up.

“We’ll have maybe ten people at most per session,” Butler said. “They will probably need help at some point, so any more than that might get a little stressful.”

Butler said he and his wife would do all the preparation prior to a customer arrival. Once the customer is in a session, all he or she has to do is assemble the entrees according to Butler’s recipes.

“We’ll help them seal up the entrees and label them with cooking instructions for when they get home,” he said.

The oven in the 1,800 square-foot business would be used strictly for items that require prior preparation.

“My wife will probably have some baked goods available as an add-on for customers,” Butler said.

Butler explained why customers would choose to prepare meals in a business kitchen rather than their own.

“You would still have to come home from the grocery store, separate the items and then prepare them,” Butler said. “Some recipes might require spices that someone may use once every nine or ten months. Spices go bad after a few weeks and you have to spend the money for more. Then there’s the clean up issue. We clean up for you.”

Butler, a 32-year veteran of the food-service industry, said he and his wife came up with the idea for this type of business after much research.

“There were only four or five similar businesses in the state of Tennessee just a few months ago,” he said. “Now there are twelve. We see this as the next stage of the food service industry.”


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