Cathy and Mike “Fitz” Fitzpatrick love to entertain in their Tupelo home. In fact, at least twice a month, they get together with three or four other couples and have dinner together.
“Most of the other couples don’t have any extended family in town, so we’re sort of like families to one another,” Mike Fitzpatrick said.
But the two quickly found that oftentimes, she was inside cooking while he was outside cooking, and there was no central place for guests to gather.
To remedy that situation, the two had Eddie Martin at Philips Garden Center build them an outside kitchen.
“It’s really nice to be part of who you’re entertaining now,” Cathy Fitzpatrick said. “Now, we can both be outside and guests begin to participate in the cooking. An outdoor kitchen is really just an extension of your home.”
The Fitzpatricks freely admit that before the outdoor extension was built, they rarely used their backyard. They had a small, wooden deck and they never got off of it.
“The configuration of the new patio and kitchen is more conducive to cooking and gathering,” Mike Fitzpatrick said. “The old deck had parts that were unusable. Now, it’s a lot more inviting to go out there.”
The couple decided they wanted a kitchen built with three main components: a grill, a sink with hot and cold running water, and a refrigerator. All this, along with a side burner, was built into a brick cabinet that’s covered in concrete. The entire structure is 13 feet long.
“You can have a cabinet that’s wood, if you want, but brick or stone is better because you’re out in the weather,” Martin said.
Mike Fitzpatrick had had his 52-inch grill for several years. He just had it removed from the cart and dropped into the cabinet.
“It’s a big grill,” he said. “I can cook 12 steaks on it at one time or eight or 10 racks of ribs.”
Cathy Fitzpatrick said her husband is more of a foodie than she is, as are most of the men in their supper club.
“He’s more of a foodie in that he can cook without a recipe – he can create,” she said. “I can cook, but I have to have a recipe. He’s been to the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) for classes.”
But the couple didn’t just have Martin plunk a kitchen down in the middle of the backyard. Together, they came up with a plan to make the area “room-like.”
Tan flagstone that covers steps and winds around a large area serves as flooring. Across from the kitchen is a sofa, two side chairs with ottomans and end tables.
Brick seating areas flank the area around the kitchen and a dining area that includes a table and six chairs. A firepit anchors one end of the kitchen and a water feature the other.
A wooden pergola that covers the kitchen and seating area is probably what makes the space seem so cozy. Shortly, it will be covered with a roof, possibly made of tin.
“You can’t really get out there when it’s raining and even after a rain, the crape myrtles drip water and flowers,” Mike Fitzpatrick said.
Martin said a roof structure provides relief from excessive sun and the rain, but also adds to the personality of the space.
“It gives the feel of a room when you have posts for walls and a roof,” he said. “But that adds to the cost. You can build a free-standing outdoor kitchen for $4,000 or you can add flooring and a roof structure and spend as much as $25,000 and then there’s everything in between.”
And there are other things you can integrate into the space besides the kitchen, like a firepit, outdoor fireplace, a swimming pool or a poolhouse.”
The Fitzpatricks’ had their plan drawn so that a pool and a poolhouse could be phased in at a later date, if desired.
But for now, they’re happy with what they have.
“I really like to come out here and drink my coffee in the morning,” Cathy Fitzpatrick said. “It’s a nice way to start the day.”
Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal