BENTON HARBOR — Cheyenne and James Galbraith seem to get noticed anywhere they go.
The brother and sister duo are wrapping up a Kickstarter venture to raise funding for a new restaurant in the Benton Harbor Arts District, which will be called Houndstooth.
James can recall hearing someone shout Houndstooth at him from a car window while he was on a walk. As they settle in at a table in a local cafe on Friday for an interview with The Herald-Palladium, the Galbraiths are approached by a waitress who asks if they are the ones behind Houndstooth.
“Yes, we are,” Cheyenne says, smiling.
“That’s so great. We’re all really excited,” the waitress says before moving on to the next table.
It’s that community response and eagerness that has the Galbraiths excited for what comes next. On the day of the interview, the Galbraiths learned they had surpassed the $40,000 fundraising goal that was needed to start the eclectic restaurant.
Instead of going through GoFundMe where people donate money, the Galbraiths opted for Kickstarter where people can secure everything from a private dinner to a drink named after them.
“We didn’t want ‘charity,’” James said, using air quotes at the mention of charity. “We wanted to sell ourselves and product and merchandise.”
The Galbraiths have more than 30 years of combined culinary experience, including time spent at Bistro on the Boulevard. They said they’ve always wanted to open a small restaurant to be more involved.
Then they got a call last summer from developer Ken Ankli, who is in the process of building four lofts at 132 Pipestone and wanted a nice restaurant to open downstairs.
With a little less than 2,000 square feet to work with, the Galbraiths were ecstatic.
Houndstooth, which is taken from the name of the black-and-white pattern seen on chef pants, will house 50 people and have a staff of 14. They expect to open by June.
The restaurant will focus on lunch and dinner, with an option for brunch on the weekends. James said the plan is to be closed for Sunday night and all of Monday. The cuisine will be “New American,” which includes Midwest recipes and Mexican and Asian flavor profiles.
The co-founders also want everything to be hands-on. The restaurant will have custom-made plates, and the Galbraiths’ father is making the tables.
“We worked with a lot of farmers at The Bistro, so we’re going to be super seasonal,” James said. “We not only want to switch it up for the customers, but for us so we can be creative.”
The Galbraiths launched a 60-day account through Kickstarter to raise the needed funding. It began on Dec. 13 with a launch party.
But the money didn’t really begin coming in until a few weeks ago. This caused some unwanted stress.
“It was kind of a nailbiter,” Cheyenne said. “Two weeks ago we were only halfway there. A lot of people wait toward the end. Kickstarter recommended a 30-day Kickstarter, but with the holidays we were going to lose three weeks.”
The Galbraiths plan to hold a give back night once a month.
“Because our space was once the original site for the Soup Kitchen that one night out of the month we would give people a free dinner,” James said. “That way they would get the same experience as paying customers.”
Another option they’re considering is going to the Soup Kitchen in Benton Harbor with their staff and cooking something special.
While they’ve surpassed the $40,000 goal, the Galbraiths said they always can use more funding.
“We’ve been squirreling away every penny we have,” Cheyenne said.
Now the duo is planning three pop-up events where they’ll take over a restaurant and cook. While the dates have not been announced, the Galbraiths said they’ll be cooking at The Mason Jar Cafe.
Until they open, the Galbraiths will continue to ride the anticipation that they are witnessing throughout the Twin Cities.
“It’s been insane, not only from people in the community, but the businesses have been helpful,” James said.
Contact: twittkowski@TheHP.com, 932-0358, Twitter: @TonyWittkowski