GENEVA — He’s got one of the most popular restaurants in the city and a bustling tavern, but Kevin Dombrowski is hungry for more.
The owner of The Rusty Pig barbecue joint and Hog Wallow Tavern, both on Linden Street, has opened Heavy Kevi’s Baking and Catering Co. at 142 Castle St., the former spot of El Rinconcito Bakery & Café.
Little renovation was needed to get the catering business rolling there. Dombrowski bought all of the kitchen equipment from El Rinconcito’s owner, Victor Sanchez, who has moved back to Puerto Rico, he said.
Dombrowski believes great workers make great businesses. A shirt he wore on Thursday backed that up. It said, “My employees are better than yours.”
To ensure success of Heavy Kevi’s Baking and Catering Co., Dombrowski turned to Joe Feligno, a longtime chef who has been cooking up good eats at a number of Finger Lakes restaurants over the years.
“I was born and raised in this industry,” Feligno said, noting his first job was as a dishwasher at his aunt Anne Feligno Brown’s Water Street Cafe on Exchange Street, which she sold to a step-son three years ago.
Feligno has worked in kitchens ranging from Belhurst to Real Eats, the Geneva meal-delivery company where he was one of the first employees.
“I love what I do. I love cooking,” Feligno said. “A lot of people know me.”
Dombrowski and Feligno said they’ve had occasional chats about working together, but finally put something together in 2022.
“We came close a few times over the years,” Dombrowski said. “This (partnership) is just hand in glove.”
The Rusty Pig offers catering, but Dombrowski said he’s had to turn down many jobs because he didn’t have the time. With Feligno, he’ll be able to expand that side of his business, he said.
“Joe will be able to do all that,” Dombrowski said. “We have several smokers here on site (at the Castle Street location).”
However, Feligno said the offerings will move beyond barbecue — from your typical catered dishes such as pastas to more customized offerings.
“I have a very unique and diverse culinary background,” he said. “Our catering menu will be our template, but if you’ve got some ideas, bring them to me.”
The Castle Street site is where folks can meet with Feligno to discuss catering needs. He said Heavy Kevi’s will be able to cater anything from birthday parties, office gatherings, and showers to weddings of up to 150-200 people. They will also offer small parties at the Castle Street storefront as well.
The spot didn’t need much preparation to get rolling. El Rinconcito operated kitchens on the first floor and the basement. It’s in the basement where the baking was done — and where that will happen with Heavy Kevi’s.
Dombrowski will initially bake bread and other goods for his businesses, but will eventually offer products to other restaurants, as well as retail customers.
“My first job was Bagels and Cakes,” Dombrowski said. “It’s almost full circle for the bakery aspect (of Heavy Kevi’s).”
He said he’ll be training his Rusty Pig staff to bake. Feligno said baking isn’t his thing — it’s too precise and unforgiving, he explained.
As for what’s next for the ambitious entrepreneur, Dombrowski said Heavy Kevi’s won’t be his last business venture. However, he believes in ensuring the success of one business before moving on to another.
“I’ve got some ideas in my mind,” he said. “I’ve still got a few tricks up my sleeves. I just love doing this. It’s so much fun.”
Feligno said he and Dombrowski are “really stoked” to get rolling.