It was five years ago — June 3, 2014 — that Kaki Lima held its first pop up. We set up on the patio at KO Pies in the East Boston Shipyard on a pleasant Tuesday evening.
It was total chaos. Most notably: We didn’t hire a dishwasher. “We can do that ourselves and save some money,” we thought. We never made that mistake again, at least intentionally.
About 40 people came to that dinner, mostly friends and family. Since then we’ve held countless sold out pop ups in Boston and Cambridge. We also popped up in New York, both Portlands, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin and elsewhere. We served meals for between 30 and 200 people. We held residencies at both KO Pies and Wink & Nod. We won ‘Best of Boston’ awards from Boston Magazine and the Improper Bostonian. We spent six months traveling and researching all across Indonesia. The New York Times featured Kaki Lima on the front page of its Food section, calling us “champions of Indonesian culture.”
Five years later, it is now time for Kaki Lima’s next adventure. We will be reluctantly giving up our community of support here in Boston and moving to New York, where Pete will re-enter the journalism world as an editor for the digital news company Quartz. And Retno will continue to nurture Kaki Lima in the same way she did in Boston. We’ll be in a different city, but the mission will remain the same: To introduce high-end Indonesian cuisine to an American audience. While we are excited for our move, it is bittersweet: We are super sad to say goodbye to our Boston community.
In these five years in Boston, we’ve meandered through an industry populated by some amazing and hard-working people. We’ve seen firsthand how challenging it is to make this kind of business work here. And we marvel at the generosity offered by the Boston restaurant community. While many people are in part responsible for our success here, we in particular want to thank Sam Jackson of KO Pies, who launched us on this journey and carried us through it to this very day; Mark O’Leary, who with great humor helped us through some of our most challenging days; the entire team at Mamaleh’s and State Park, which gave Retno her start in the industry here and have been a rock of support ever since; Patrick Enage of Akinto, who managed to somehow triple our productivity with all his tricks; the entire staff at Wink & Nod and KO Pies; Tom and Mariah Pisha-Duffly, who invited us to the Honey Paw so long ago for our first out-of-state pop up and have been our friends and inspiration ever since; Meg Tobin, who generously relieved us of having to make desserts; and Nick Dynan, who better take our secrets to his grave.
We will officially make the move to New York sometime in June. In the meantime, place your last catering orders now. And stay tuned for news of our last pop up series in Boston (for now).