Behind Every Store, There's a Story – Heirloom Kitchen
How a culinary store was started by a pair of cooking-lovers seeking to share their experiences with others in Old Bridge, New Jersey.
Neilly Robinson wasn’t happy working in fashion. A New Jersey native who worked at an artist management company in New York’s fashion industry, her work was both interesting and challenging. Despite that, the entrepreneurial spirit instilled into her by her father had always compelled her to break out on her own.
Her dream had always been to do something innovative in the food industry, but projects with various partners seemed to consistently fall through. Childhood memories of large family gatherings around a beautiful table with soulful meals kept her passion for the culinary arts alive as she continued to search for the right opportunity to share her joy of cooking with others. Fortunately, her passion for food and desire to open a store of her own was matched by another – someone who was at the heart of Neilly’s first memories of food.
Enter Judy Rosenblum, Neilly’s mom and the queen of hosting dinner parties. With a background in interior decorating and design, Judy has a keen eye for quality table settings. It was her dream to make tabletop merchandise and cooking equipment that was both beautiful and functional available in Old Bridge, NJ, where large chain stores only offer mass-produced basics. Along with her daughter’s love for foodie culture, her interest in healthy cooking has evolved over the past 35 years as the head chef in her household. Last year, the two realized their dreams and opened Heirloom Kitchen, a kitchenware store and cooking class venue. Aptly named to evoke a history of warm family meals and tradition, Heirloom Kitchen’s epicurean concept is inviting and unpretentious.
The store sells products that can be used by beginner and advanced cooking-lovers alike. From table linens to kitchen knives, the merchandise is sourced from all over the world. Heirloom Kitchen is not only a store; it’s a community destination where one can sign up for cooking lessons and learn new techniques from experienced chefs on-site. There is a state-of-the-art kitchen and enough seating for 24—the perfect venue for an inspiring lesson or private dinner party. The store has been open for less than a year, but has already surpassed expectations. What did it take to get it up and running? According to Neilly, a lot of cooperation and collaboration.
Working with my mom has been an interesting ride. Putting all of this together has been an insane amount of work, but we realize that our generational differences are actually an advantage, because we have an understanding of two different demographics.
Neilly describes her taste as rustic, whereas her mom’s is decidedly more modern. The two continue to expand their business to include a wedding gift registry and more philanthropic community events. Starting this business has been a lot of work, and it will continue to be an adventure as it gains momentum. Both Neilly and Judy have some serious entrepreneurial dreams, and their key to success has been to keep real in their hometown and share what they love most: bringing together people over a beautiful table with home-cooked food.