Best of KC 2020: Danielle Lehman is the best humble servant of the (culinary) arts
This month, we published The Pitch’s annual Best of Kansas City issue. You can browse the results of the readers’ poll here. The issue also included a list, compiled and written by our editorial staff, of some of our current favorite things about Kansas City in 2020. We’ll be publishing these items online throughout November.
When the pandemic started, the pace of life slowed for a lot of people. Not Danielle Lehman. The marketing consultant and creator of the Open Belly food podcast has spent the last six months working as a sort of pro bono PR powerhouse for the struggling restaurant industry.
In March, she created CurbsideKC, an online database of local restaurants offering curbside takeout and delivery. As takeout became more ubiquitous and the need for a curbside-Yellow Pages faded, Lehman refocused the site to provide resources to local restaurateurs: opportunities for grants, lists of COVID-19 testing sites, marketing pro-tips, and connections to mental health care. In August, she added Curbside Notary—a free, mobile notary service that pops up outside local restaurants to encourage voters to grab a bite after they send in their ballot. Lehman trained a small army of notaries, and Local design firm Hufft donated custom collapsible booths for the service.
Along the way, she’s also organized free lunches for hospitality workers, helped produce a fundraising campaign for The Tamale Kitchen and Café Corazon, and spent untold hours producing promotional videos and posts for restaurants, marketing pandemic pop-ups, and connecting industry entrepreneurs to reporters (did we mention she isn’t getting paid for this?).
Ostensibly, she sleeps, though we’re not sure how.
“My goal has really just been to get my friends and the restaurants I want to survive through this,” Lehman tells us. Three cheers to Lehman for stepping up at a time when it would have been easy to shut down.