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Food, Laughter, and Community: Kelliann Frank Talks About the Success Behind Building and Maintaining her Restaurant

Food, Laughter, and Community: Kelliann Frank Talks About the Success Behind Building and Maintaining her Restaurant

Story by LISA ANDERSON and ROHANA OLSON | Photo by ROHANA OLSON

In an adorable restaurant located in Babbitt, Minnesota you can hear the infectious laughter of owner Kelliann Frank. Kell’s Kitchen is a dream come true for Frank, but that was not always the case. She began her college journey with a chiropractic degree in mind. However, Frank fell into the culinary arts program and it became clear that she had found her calling in life. She graduated from the program at Hibbing Community College and landed a position as a kitchen supervisor at Wilderness of Fortune Bay located in Tower, Minnesota. She worked there until 2006, gaining the much-needed experience for running a kitchen of her own.

In April 2007, the dream became a reality when Frank opened the doors to her new business and the public embraced the restaurant. The menu items are a nod to the roots of this mining community with selections such as the Taconite Burger and Railroad Wrap, but breakfast is where it is at for Frank. This shows in her cheekily named Break Feast, which features a plate brimming with hash browns, eggs, meats, toast and two plate-sized pancakes.

Besides the food, Kell’s Kitchen is filled with caring staff and a family-focused environment —something she believes is the real reason behind her success as both a restaurant and catering company.

Besides the food, Kell’s Kitchen is filled with caring staff and a family-focused environment —something she believes is the real reason behind her success as both a restaurant and catering company. Like every business, though, Frank has seen her ups and downs. One such event took place in 2011 when a fire broke out in a neighboring business. Unfortunately, this caused smoke and water damage to the restaurant and Frank was forced to close her doors for a month. The timing of such tragedies is always bad, and Frank felt the pressure as she tried to figure out a way to save the large shipment of food they had just received the day before. That was when she experienced the community she had built come together as staff and another local restaurant stepped in to fill their own freezers and refrigerators.

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Similar to many small business owners across the country, Kell’s Kitchen has felt the pressure from the global pandemic due to COVID-19, and once again Frank is seeing local support through customers who still order take-out and delivery.

It might be difficult to imagine a bright future for businesses like Kell’s Kitchen in today’s climate, but Frank still sees it. No one could blame her when you look at the neighbors, friends, and family who have been at her side through thick and thin. This joy-filled chef and restaurant owner is looking forward to bringing many more smiles and full bellies to her customers for years to come.

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