Meet the Owner - Domku Cafeposted Tuesday, June 28 by Kera Carpenter
Business Name: Domku Cafe
Owner/Contact: Kera Carpenter
How Long Have you Been a Business Owner?
About 7 years.
How did you get into this business?
My parents use to laugh at the food I made for them —and it was pretty bad food, I admit —but then I spent a year in Paris after college, then another year in London. That changed everything. I learned how good food could be and how easy it was to make it. I started devouring cookbooks and magazines and cooking for friends. Many years later I shrugged off the corporate cloak, and here I am.
What did you do in a previous life? What was your first job ever?
I’ve done a number of things, including teaching English, freelance writing, business consulting, and international development. My first job ever was delivering newspapers at the age of 9. I was way too conscientious about it—I’d throw the paper from my bike, but if it didn’t hit the front door, I’d get off my bike and walk it up. I didn’t have the best aim so I was late for school a lot. At 13, I flipped pancakes and burgers in a 12 seat diner.
Is this your first entrepreneurial experience? Did you always want to be your own boss?
It’s the only one that counts. I suppose I’ve always been really independent; I’ve always had way too many of my own ideas – what to do, how to do it – so I guess it was inevitable.
Why should customers choose you? What makes your business different from you competition?
Oh, I don’t. Anything I say will sound obnoxious. I would never call myself a chef: I’m a good cook. One can certainly find better food in DC. Knowing that, I try to be unique, to offer customers things they won’t find everywhere else. Because I’m a bit out of the way for a lot of people, I want to make the trip to Petworth worthwhile for them by providing an experience that is unique. Also, Domku truly is an expression of my creativity —from the music that I choose to play to each butterfly that dangles from the ceiling —and of my desire to share and be part of a community. i think my customers can feel that there is a definite personality to the place. It’s whimsical and light but the food is taken seriously.
The best part of doing business in DC is…
“the neighborhood I’m in. I probably know 50% of my customers by name because they’ve been around supporting me all these years.”
What are your upcoming events?
I’m working on project with a local photographer, Michael Wilkinson, called “Faces of Petworth.” We started it during a fundraiser held at Domku for the Petworth Community Market. He’s taken B&W photos of neighborhood folks, which will be put on exhibit at Domku for phase 2 of the fundraiser. It’s a nice representation of old and new residents and business owners.
Think Local First DC (TLF) is kicking off its first-ever campaign to save small and local DC businesses money on energy. Called Power to Save, the effort provides businesses with simple, easy ways to immediately reduce their energy costs and enhance their sustainability.