EntertainmentLocal A&E


New owners taking Dinner to Doorbells in new directions despite a return to its Newport roots

'Feeding people and being creative in the kitchen'
Dinner to Doorbells chicken enchiladas.jpg
Jennifer Eisenstein Dinner to Doorbells.jpg
Ali Crowdus Dinner to Doorbells.jpg
Dinner to Doorbells pasta e fagiole soup.jpg
Dinner to Doorbells production.jpg
Dinner to Doorbells orange jalapeno chicken.jpg
Posted at 7:00 AM, Feb 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-26 07:03:30-05

NEWPORT, Ky. — With new owners at the helm, local meal delivery company Dinner to Doorbells is getting back to its roots. Quite literally.

The business, which got its start in 2017, has moved to its original location at Newport’s Incubator Kitchen Collective (517 W. Seventh St.) after a quick stint in O’Bryonville.

It’s a shift that will also bring about an increased focus on quality ingredients, more diet-specific options, like Whole 30 and Ketogenic, and targeted marketing efforts in certain neighborhoods, specifically the West Side, as Jennifer Eisenstein and Ali Crowdus eye growth in 2020.

At least that’s the plan.

Dinner to Doorbells pasta e fagiole soup.jpg
Dinner to Doorbells paste e fagiole soup.

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind since the two took over in December, after original founder Beth Russell announced she was stepping away with the pending arrival of her third child. But they are excited to dig in.

“It was a no-brainer,” Eisenstein said. “The whole premise is the same – making people’s lives easier so that they can spend more time with their families. But it will be simpler. We just want to keep feeding people and being creative in the kitchen.”

Jennifer Eisenstein Dinner to Doorbells.jpg
Jennifer Eisenstein, Dinner to Doorbells

Eisenstein got her start at Dinner to Doorbells not long after its founding. She had left her marketing job with Procter & Gamble to be a stay-at-home mom but liked the idea of working in a kitchen.

Ali Crowdus Dinner to Doorbells.jpg
Ali Crowdus, Dinner to Doorbells

Crowdus, meanwhile, got more involved when Dinner to Doorbells bought her meal prep company, Power Pack Meals, in March 2019.

Dinner to Doorbells is an alternative to big-box services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh – its meals, unlike the aforementioned kits, involve little to no prep. The food, which is made fresh locally, arrives frozen or ready to eat. The company doesn’t require a subscription to order. Delivery is still free for neighborhoods inside the Interstate 275 loop, but Dinner to Doorbells has also extended that radius to include parts of Northern Kentucky.

Dinners are portioned family-style, or for one to six people, and many options fall in the comfort-food category. Think flatbread pizzas, casseroles, pasta and more.

Dinner to Doorbells production.jpg
Dinner to Doorbells production.

The Power Pack line offers healthier and low-carb choices, like grilled blackened chicken, turkey burgers and grilled tofu tacos. There’s breakfast, sides and lunch items, too. Salads are a top seller, Eisenstein said. The specific menu changes each week.

“We try to make it that, if you wanted to, you could order from us and literally not have to go to the grocery store,” Eisenstein said.

Crowdus, who attended the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State, likes to put her own spin on standard dishes, she said. Dinner to Doorbells offers a huge convenience for customers, but she likes being able to serve clients healthy meals. She said Dinner to Doorbells is looking to put more focus on quality – using Amish chicken for example, and using better cuts when it comes to steak.

“We really put a lot of care into our food,” Eisenstein said. “We make most of our stuff from scratch. All of our sauces are from scratch; all of our salad dressings are from scratch. We buy things that are local. There’s people who order the Power Pack meals, who are eating healthy, and there’s people who enjoy the family style food – and the fact that we offer both, I think, makes us unique.”

Dinner to Doorbells orange jalapeno chicken.jpg
Dinner to Doorbells orange jalapeno chicken.

The move to Newport has streamlined operations. Dinner to Doorbells had its own stand-alone location in O'Bryonville in the former Blackbird Eatery, which had space for events, but Eisenstein and Crowdus wanted to refocus on the core of the business.

While it no longer boasts that physical storefront, Crowdus said, it’s still the goal to make Dinner to Doorbells a household name. Roughly 100 families order meals each week, and a bulk come from the Oakley/Hyde Park area. The women want to target other neighborhoods, including the West Side, as they look to grow.

“We’re getting back to what we do best, which is creating delicious food for people to eat,” Eisenstein said. “So far, we’ve had a really positive response.”

@_Liz Engel