Kristi Brown, Chef and Restaurant Owner

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A Year in the Life

Kristi Brown, Chef and Restaurant Owner

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Summer 2020, right around her 50th birthday, was supposed to be when acclaimed chef and co-owner Kristi Brown and her son, operations manager and co-owner Damon Bomar, were supposed to open COMMUNION, a restaurant that was four years in the making.

The pandemic might have delayed the opening of the restaurant, but Brown and Bomar still found themselves incredibly busy, operating a community kitchen out of Brown’s catering company, That Brown Girl Cooks!

By December, however, COMMUNION was finally ready to open, even with last-minute delays and a COVID scare among the repair staff. “It was crazy, but the holiday spirit, and the anticipation of our community was amazing and welcoming, and helped us know we did the right thing at the right time,” Brown says. At COMMUNION, you’ll find what Brown describes as “Seattle soul” food; the menu is a reflection of many different influences, from Brown’s own family recipes and Southern soul food influences to her time spent in Seattle’s International and Central Districts.

“This last year of the pandemic has been a true test of fortitude and confirmation that we are on the correct path, no matter how painful or difficult it can be at times,” Brown says. “It has been helpful to both Damon and I to know that we have the strength that it takes to make anything we put our minds and hearts into.”

Her story of the last 12 months follows.

 

March 2020: Meeting with Metis construction, in what we thought would be our final construction meeting for COMMUNION restaurant. —K.B.

Photo Courtesy Kristi Brown

April 2020: Right after the shutdown closed a majority of businesses, we joined #ThePlateFund to raise money for workers, including our own.

Photo Courtesy Kristi Brown

May 2020: Passing out Whole Foods donations to community kitchen partners #FoodisLove/TerraPlata.

Photo Courtesy Kristi Brown

June 2020: With chef Tarik Abdullah (right), May Ann Aguilar, and farmer Bil Thorn (left). Spending a day at the farm for fresh air.

Photo Courtesy Kristi Brown

July 2020: Meeting with Josh and Sarah from Metis Construction, as well as Angela and Michelle from Atelier Drome Architecture Firm. Both Metis and Atelier Drome were involved with the buildout for COMMUNION.

Photo Courtesy Kristi Brown

August 2020: Painting chef Tarik's plaza for Feed the People. It's a gathering place for folks that was created during the pandemic.

Photo Courtesy Kristi Brown

September 2020: My son and COMMUNION director of operations and co-owner Damon Bomar, executing individual meals for That Brown Girl Cooks! (TBGC!). It's a culinary brand/catering company that I started and, at the time, we also operated as a community kitchen, serving free meals to the local community. We're hoping to reopen the community kitchen soon.

Photo Courtesy Kristi Brown

October 2020: COMMUNION's first recipe photo shoot with Jessica Rycheal and Malina Lopez.

Photo Courtesy Kristi Brown

November 2020: Recipe tasting for COMMUNION with front-of-house manager Cole Austin III; sous chef Lynn Lewis; Jaylon Nazario; Omitosin King; Alvedo Hobson; Jamila Wasson; Mizani James-McDaniel; and chef Tarik Abdullah.

Photo Courtesy Kristi Brown

December 2020: Amazon's BEN (Black Employee Network) donated Christmas meals from TBGC! to those in need.

Photo Courtesy Kristi Brown

January 2021: COMMUNION staff returning for a meeting after a two-week break.

Photo Courtesy Kristi Brown

February 2021: I cooked alongside chefs Wayne Johnson, Edouardo Jordan, and Trey Lamont while filming for The Soul of Seattle. Chef Jordan created The Soul of Seattle in 2020 to help foster relationships and empower the local community through food, shedding light on the diverse food and Black-owned businesses within Seattle. This year, because of the pandemic, we gathered together for a virtual event series.

Photo Courtesy Kristi Brown

March 2021: Slowly, but surely, it's starting to feel like we're returning to normal again. I catered a wedding photo shoot with Microvenues Seattle and Tapestry Event Co. I'm most looking forward to a time when people are able to dine inside without us harboring fear of contracting or transmitting COVID, while dining.

Photo Courtesy Kristi Brown

Read More Stories From Resy's Special Project: A Year in the Life of Restaurant Workers

A Year in the Life

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