In January, 19-year-old Hannah Willner purchased Hannah Bell’s Cafe from her father. Changes to the establishment are ongoing, but the most recent move is bringing Chef Katie Wimsatt and her culinary expertise as the owner of Gourmet Meals to Go into the kitchen.
Wimsatt, primarily known as Chef Red because of her fiery attitude and red hair, opened Gourmet Meals to Go more than 5 years ago. The meal-prep company has since outgrown two locations — the first of which was her mother’s garage.
The two businesses will now operate under one roof, located at 1324 Carter Road.
“We come from different generations but we have similar ambitions,” Wimsatt said. “We have a great relationship and we hope to continue to grow together as successful businesswomen. There’s no failure if we don’t quit.”
Wimsatt’s formal training paired with her passion for food makes her a perfect fit for a fun kitchen dishing out a wide array of southern comfort food.
“The transformation of food from its raw state to cooked is therapeutic to me,” Wimsatt said. “When you have a passion and you find something you love, you have to do it and stick with it.”
That level of passion and experience is what Willner found the most appealing.
“It’s tough being a 19-year-old woman in this position. I’m met with vendors, customers, and the likes that have minimal expectations,” Willner said. “She understands the struggles. She’s focused, task-oriented, and likes to get the job done. It was the perfect fit.”
The two operations pride themselves in offering a diverse menu that features a plethora of healthy options. They most recently started their Healthy Choice Grab-and-Go cooler that features several items that customers can simply pick up before starting their day.
Gourmet Meals to Go offers weekly meal prep that features a 4-ounce meat selection and two 1-cup sides. Customers are able to choose from more than 14 meats and 14 vegetables and determine the number of meals they would like per week.
“There’s a lot of science that goes into this. I need the food to taste good to you after being reheated,” Wimsatt said. “I’ve conducted a lot of research and became well-versed in the food and its nutritional value. I want my customers to know what food can do for them. We want to accommodate any and all health concerns. Seeing my business cards at doctors’ offices was a surreal moment for me.”
In addition to featuring some of Chef Red’s creations, Hannah Bell’s continues to pride itself on family recipes that have been passed down for generations. The cafe is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays and from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.
They offer breakfast all day and feature daily specials for lunch, which begins at 10 a.m. daily. Their menu also features salads, burgers, sandwiches, and several other items.
“We really want to create a family environment here,” Willner said. “My sister Bella helps out a lot on weekends — she’s the Bell in Hannah Bell. We’re short-staffed and looking for more help right now.”
The two expressed their gratitude to the Owensboro community and their loyal customers. They admitted that navigating through a pandemic was tough, but having the community behind them aided greatly.
“We have joined forces of two talented, local, driven, and passionate women,” Wimsatt said. “We look forward to providing not just healthy food and southern family recipes, but an enjoyable environment for all to visit.”