With Closure on the Horizon, Brett Banasiewicz Bids Farewell to The Kitchen

After battling through multiple financial struggles over the park's lifetime, Brett Banasiewicz recently announced that The Kitchen will be closing its doors for good at the end of this month. We caught up with Brett to see how he and his family are dealing with the situation, what his future plans entail, and what's taking place to give the park a proper send-off. 


Ben Wallace - 2015


I’m sure this has to be a real bummer for you and your family. How is everyone doing?

My family and I are definitely bummed. It’s really bittersweet. We put everything into The Kitchen and it was so much more than just a skatepark. We’ll cherish all the memories we had the past eight years for sure.


I know the park has struggled financially on-and-off for quite some time. Was the COVID-19 situation the final blow?

Unfortunately, COVID-19 really put the nail in the coffin. We also had a super-mild winter in South Bend, so riders were outside and not coming in to ride as often. Definitely a combination of those factors. 

For us, though, it was never about money. It was about providing a safe and fun place for kids to ride.


What exactly happened in Indiana - did the park have to completely shut down?

Yeah. The park had to completely shut down mid-March. The state is just now opening with heavy restriction.


Colton Walker - 2017


From start to finish, how long was the park around?

We started building the park in 2011. The initial purpose of building the park was to give myself a place to ride because my riding had really evolved at that time, but I thought about how much the park could provide to my community and it opened to the public in 2012.


It seems like you’ve been riding really well lately. What sort of impact do you think this will have on you personally?

Yeah, thanks. I have been feeling really good on my bike lately. Obviously, riding just makes me so happy. It’ll put a damper on my riding vibes for sure. I’m personally going to miss being there and enjoying myself. For everyone - and especially me - it was somewhere you could always go and be yourself without judgement. 


 


What is the vibe like amongst the locals? Do you think the scene will survive?

Everyone is bummed. They’re just going to have to be motivated to travel and ride like I was at a young age if they want their riding to continue to progress. 


Is there anything else in the area to ride?

We only have a small outdoor concrete park. I think the next closest indoor parks are 4Seasons and Ollie’s.


Do you plan to still ride regularly?

I’ll try to ride The Kitchen as much as possible until the ramps are torn down. I don’t know about outside, though. Not so keen on riding outdoors much anymore…


In your opinion, what are a few of the biggest highlights from the park’s lifetime?

Man, the biggest highlight has just been the progression of the park and the riders throughout the years. I loved doing ramp modifications or swapping ramps to change sections. Just such a fun place to be with friends. Trick-wise, there was a time I did a flair to double peg on the Ethika ramp. Nick Bruce actually flair down whipped over the garage door quarters. I always loved any frontflips I did. I could go on and on. I’m going to miss this place.


Who are a few of the riders that you feel like rode the place the best?

In no order, Nick Bruce, Blake Osborne, Tyler Lichkay, Rob Armour, Alex Landeros, and Joel Bondu.


Who are a few of the riders in which The Kitchen was instrumental in their BMX career development?

Myself and my cousin Hannah Roberts! Aside from us, a lot of the young local riders are getting their names into BMX flow sponsorships because of posting their clips from The Kitchen. It’s definitely a park where you can train to be the best.


12-year-old Hannah Roberts in 2014


What do you have planned for the final session?

We’re going to do a big three-day-weekend gig. Then tear down starts the following Monday. 


Will you be able to have a big session to end everything on a high note or is everything still too restricted for that based on COVID-19?

For sure. The community will show up and celebrate the park for one last ride. Unlimited access, music, food, open doors. It’ll be a good time.


Parker Heath - 2015


Much of your family was fully devoted to The Kitchen. What are you guys going to do next?

You know this is all super fresh and bittersweet, like I said. We haven’t talked about what is next yet. Just going to enjoy the last weekend and be grateful for everything that it’s been to us and our community the past eight years. 


What are you going to miss most about The Kitchen?

I’ll miss being able to go there and just be myself. Like every other BMX rider, you’re not as happy anywhere else other than on your bike. When I ride, it lets me express my feelings and personality - probably more than a face-to-face conversation. It’s the best feeling. I used The Kitchen to bring myself happiness and I loved seeing it bring the same for skaters and riders. 


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