Walk into Kured, a build-your-own charcuterie board shop in Beacon Hill, and you’re welcomed by two sights: a display of paper cones filled with meat, cheese, and various garnishes, and a hand-painted pair of pastel dragons, attached at the mouths by a graffiti-laced rainbow.
This greeting reflects the dual purpose of Kured, which recent Boston College graduate Gilli Rozynek opened in early June: a quick-service charcuterie shop, and a space for artists to showcase their work, both on the walls of the brick-and-mortar Charles Street locale and on the inside of the charcuterie boxes themselves.
Rozynek, 22, conceived of Kured while studying abroad in Madrid in spring 2019, during her junior year as a marketing major.
“People come together for charcuterie board, a pitcher of beer, that sort of thing, and have real connection and authentic conversation,” Rozynek said.
Aware of the “running around 24/7″ mentality that she said prevails in the United States, Rozynek wanted to find a way to recreate that camaraderie at home.
“I was like, ‘I don’t want to lose this,’” said Rozynek, who lives in the North End.
Kured began as an e-commerce operation in summer 2020 when Rozynek participated in SSC Venture Partners, an accelerator program and venture fund for Boston College startups. She packaged and delivered the charcuterie boards herself across Cape Cod and Greater Boston, a venture that quickly became too time-consuming and expensive.
But Rozynek didn’t see the charcuterie trend going away anytime soon, so she decided to give up a marketing job opportunity in New York to pursue Kured full time.
“I saw the real, major, scalable opportunity, which is to open a Sweetgreen-, Chipotle-style, build-your-own-charcuterie-board brick and mortar,” she said.
She received investments from the accelerator program, friends and family, and another venture fund. She soon found a home in the Beacon Hill storefront, which was once the location of Fastachi, a roasted nuts and handmade chocolate shop. The small business community on Charles Street sold Rozynek on the space, she said, and she signed a lease in spring 2021.
“I remember going into Google and literally typing in ‘vacant spaces in Boston,’ and this one came up, I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’” she said.
Meat-and-cheese lovers can build custom boxes in store or have one made-to-order. The “Banksy Box,” for instance, contains one-year aged cheddar, Hooks Triple Play parmesan, brie, 14-month aged prosciutto, genoa salami, Ibérico de Bellota ham, pitted Mediterranean olives, roasted cashews, and clover honey. The boxes cost about $18-$43, depending on the size and what’s inside, and catering and delivery options are also available.
The cones — “it’s like an ice cream shop but for meat and cheese,” Rozynek said — run from $4 to $6. Inspired by the cones in the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid, they are a good noncommittal option if you want to try one of Kured’s zanier offerings, like duck salami. She also sells sandwiches on fresh baguettes.
“The way that we thought about the menu was we wanted to make it so there were choices that would appeal to everyone,” Rozynek said.
Now, about those dragons. “I was trying to launch this company with a mission to power conversation,” Rozynek said. “The way I view it is artists are a large facilitator in powering conversation.”
Henry Dunkelberger, also a recent BC graduate, is the mastermind behind the dragon display, as well as a clothing line offered in-store and a charcuterie box design, all of which make up his “Please Smile” collection. The box features his cartoonish designs on the inside, as well as a charcuterie platter of his creation, which includes three kinds of jerky, among other delicacies.
“I don’t really think there’s many companies that you can work for or with that will actually let you just take complete control of the project, but that was the thing that [Rozynek] emphasized from the get-go,” said Dunkelberger, 23, a multimedia artist who lives in Brighton. “She really just provided me with the platform to actually make whatever I want.”
Dunkelberger is Kured’s first fully featured artist. Artists are rotated every three months. Two other box designs by local artists have already come and gone — “Neon Breaks the Void” by mixed-media artist Katie Lane and the minimalistic “Unfreedom of a Clear Path” by sneaker artist Nari Lee and Rozynek. For every artist’s box sold, the artist receives a royalty.
“The whole goal is to give artists a space to create and express their creative freedom and be recognized and compensated,” Rozynek said.
Kured, 83 Charles St., Boston. Open daily, 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. 617-870-4151. Kured.co
Dana Gerber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org