Queen City Kitchen was founded as the Over-the-Rhine Kitchen in 1976 by Father Thomas Bokenkotter and his colleagues. Fr. Bokenkotter had visited Dorothy Day’s House of Hospitality in New York City and realized Cincinnati needed a kitchen to provide a meal without obligatory religious service for the 80 percent of the 10,000 residents in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood living in poverty.
Fr. Bokenkotter recruited volunteers, and with just $700 he began serving meals in a building on Main Street. A second location opened in Walnut Hills in 1984. The Over-the-Rhine kitchen moved several times before settling, in 2003, into its current location at 1620 Vine Street. The Walnut Hills Kitchen is housed in the Geiger House, a property named for Tom Geiger, who helped open the original Over-the-Rhine Kitchen.
In 2018, the organization changed its name to Queen City Kitchen to better reflect its mission to serve all Cincinnati neighbors.
Fr. Bokenkotter taught that people experience poverty for many reasons. While we seek larger answers, we can act to alleviate hunger. This reflection continues to inspire the work of Queen City Kitchen today.