Meet the Owner - Domku Cafe

posted 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.