How a Springboro woman turned COVID furlough into business opportunity with Dished

SPRINGBORO — Katie Easton was one of the millions of Americans who were laid off or furloughed from their jobs in March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Easton soon turned the loss into an opportunity to start her own business, called Dished.

When the pandemic hit, Easton, who lives in Springboro with her husband, Alex, and their 7-year-old son, Beckett, was working in the hospitality industry as a catering sales manager for a nearby hotel.

“When I was first furloughed, I thought, ‘This will be fine; I’ll just wait it out, the hotel will call me back and we’ll be good,’” she said. “I loved my job, so I was not planning on making any changes.”

As time passed without a call to return to work, Easton, who describes herself as someone who does not like to sit still, said she began using her newfound free time to cook more and and to experiment with meal prep, posting her homemade meals to social media. As a member of a local gym and a women’s networking group, Easton had multiple friends and acquaintances showing interest in her new hobby.

“I had started cooking a lot just for my family, and because I like food, then people at the gym and in my networking group were like, ‘Hey, I would totally pay you to meal prep for me,’” Easton said. “It started out small and I was just doing it out of my house, but pretty soon people were taking meals with them to work and it just kind of took off from there.”

As interest grew and customers multiplied, Easton said she quickly realized the need for more space than her home kitchen could offer. She has temporarily utilized the commercial kitchen space of a local baker, as well as the kitchen of Christ Church United Methodist in Kettering before deciding to make her business official by opening its own brick-and-mortar location.

Located in Kettering at 5860 Bigger Road, the new building was originally a Marco’s Pizza carry-out. Easton said the entire space is currently undergoing a complete renovation, with move-in tentatively set for February or March of this year.

Until then, Easton said the business will continue to operate out of the Christ Church United Methodist kitchen, with offerings including pre-ordered, fully-cooked meals as well as options for meal kits, which provide all ingredients for a meal along with directions for preparation.

“(Once we’re in the new location), we’ll probably continue in the short term to operate as we have been by doing pre-orders of prepared meals and meal kits, eventually offering healthy grab-and-go type options with things like salads, snacks, protein bites, and smoothies,” Easton said.

Easton said she’s already brainstorming additional ideas to take her business further in the future.

“I’m a huge condiment fan; I don’t believe in eating boring foods, so I love sauces and dips and things like that,” she said. “We make our dressing, marinades and everything like that from scratch, so I could see us offering a dressing and sauce line or spice blends, something along those lines.”

She also hopes to use her business as a way to feature the work of others.

“There’s a small space in the building where the customer carry-out area is that I think would be great for highlighting other women-owned businesses with artisan-type products, like candles, pottery, small housewares and things like that,” she said.

Along with being able to do what she loves for a living, Easton said her hope is to make the lives of her customers just a little more enjoyable.

“We’re just trying to make people’s lives easier and make healthy food not so boring,” she said. “Everyone has to eat, but not everyone likes to cook or has the time to, so we want to take the stress out of that.”

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