Kat Donenberg is revamping The Monkey Wrench's menu. | Photos by Derrick Pedolzky
Kat Donenberg is revamping The Monkey Wrench’s menu. | Photos by Derrick Pedolzky

The Monkey Wrench has rotated through a few cooks over the past two years.

In 2014, chef Dustin Staggers was crafting culinary delights in The Monkey Wrench’s kitchen. After Staggers left to start his own restaurant, Matt Davis, owner of Lil Cheezers, took over with their own unique spin on bar food.

But they also left and Davis started his own new restaurant, Slice.

After months of manning the kitchen himself — a task The Monkey Wrench owner Dennie Humphrey does not enjoy — Humphrey said he’s found the perfect replacement in Kat Donenberg.

“I need you,” Humphrey said, recalling his conversation with Donenberg. “I literally have been doing my own cooking for five months. …I just don’t have the passion for it.”

Donenberg formerly ran the kitchen at The Back Door, and for a brief time at the cafe for Time and Space on Bardstown Road.

“It was kind of a bad mistake,” she said of Time and Space, leaving it at that.

Donenberg reached out to Humphrey knowing he didn’t have anyone running the kitchen.

“I love that bar,” she said. “I’m blessed just to be able to work with people like Dennie and John (Dant, owner of The Back Door).”

Already she is introducing new items to The Monkey Wrench’s menu, her personal favorites being the duck wontons and the Brussels sprouts. Donenberg said she makes “comfort food with a twist,” and people can expect to see some of the dishes she used to make at The Back Door featured as daily specials. The menu will have vegetarian options as well.

“Anything people want, all they have to do is ask,” she said.

Menu prices will continue to range from $7 to $10.

The Monkey Wrench will host a special event Wednesday. Along with its $3 margaritas and $3 beer specials, the bar will serve up free food, Donenberg said, to get feedback and to get people who might be leery because of its rotating cast of cooks to try the new menu.

“Food is trust,” she said.

Humphrey hopes soon to bring on cook Troy Mock, who also used to work at The Back Door, to man the kitchen alongside Donenberg.

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Caitlin Bowling
Louisville native Caitlin Bowling has covered the local restaurant and retail scene since 2014. After graduating from the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Caitlin got her start at a newspaper in the mountains of North Carolina where she won multiple state awards for her reporting. Since returning to Louisville, she’s written for Business First and Insider Louisville, winning awards for health and business reporting and becoming a go-to source for business news. In addition to restaurants and retail business, Caitlin covers real estate, economic development and tourism. Email Caitlin at [email protected]