Restaurateurs resuming operations are giving customers new ways to access their favorite foods and beverages.
Folks from across central Indiana descended upon the temporary digs of Kountry Kitchen Soul Food Place this week, eager for the service that’s been extended to the community and visiting celebrities for more than 30 years.
This iteration of the restaurant, which continues to do catering, is take-out service only at 1417 Commerce Ave.
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Customers this week headed to the parking lot — there are about 30 spaces to serve Kountry Kitchen and nearby businesses — from the store carrying bags of five and six dinners each at its reopening Tuesday.
Save for a pop-up dinner series in Broad Ripple last spring, it was the first time in about 10 months that the Indianapolis institution had served food to the public after a January fire destroyed its 100-year-old building at 1831 N. College Ave.
Among those effusing with enthusiasm was Mariana Payson II as she ordered and then awaited curbside service on the first day.
She’d driven 35 miles from her Eagle Creek home for the restaurant’s baked chicken, dressing, collard greens and sweet potatoes.
“I’ve been waiting for this place,” she said. ”I drove all the way here to get the food. There are not a lot of people that can make everything really good.”
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For some, early system quirks led to lengthy waits and a bit of confusion about pickup and ordering onsite. The waiting area is limited to six people, and the ordering and pickup section — its walls lined with photos of the many entertainers and politicians who dined at the College Avenue restaurant — is limited to four. But there was much patience amongst the clientele eager for fried fish and smothered pork chops and fried green tomatoes and cornbread.
Kountry Kitchen has been working from Riley Area Development Corp.’s Ruckus co-working and food incubation space on Commerce Avenue, doing light catering business before expanding to carry out business this week.
Owners Isaac and Cynthia Wilson still are planning to rebuild their dine-in restaurant, along with an events center and parking lot, in the 1800 block of North College Avenue next year.
Meanwhile, online ordering and curbside pickup are available through the restaurant’s KountryKitchenIndy.com website and Facebook page, and delivery is available through the Grubhub app and website. Kountry Kitchen apps are in the works for iOS and Android via the Apple Store and Google Play, respectively, Cynthia Wilson said.
The Kountry Kitchen carryout-only restaurant, 317-635-6000, is open 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
Another beloved restaurant impacted by fire aims to get back to business at its site.
Rusted Silo Southern BBQ & Brew House, the Lizton slow-cooked barbeque spot, has been closed since an Oct. 21 early morning blaze.
The restaurant suffered smoke and water damage, said chef Robert Ecker, who opened Rusted Silo at 411 N. State in April 2018 with his wife Tina.
Rusted Silo last week was named winner of IndyStar Best Things Best Barbeque Restaurant for the third consecutive year, as well as the 2020 winner for the takeout and catering categories.
Ecker expects it to take at least two months before the restaurant is reopened. But folks don’t have to be without Indianapolis’ best barbecue for that long.
Since the fire, its Rolling Silo food truck has been going to festivals and will be parked outside and serving at the restaurant starting next week.
The limited menu will include pulled pork, beef brisket and chicken, along with side dishes of beans, potato salad, coleslaw and greens. Mac and cheese orders will have to wait until the kitchen is going again, Ecker said.
Ecker said the fire, which he was told appeared to be from an electrical short, was discovered by a cook arriving for work.
The Rusted Silo, which sponsors several race car drivers and has worked with various community organizations to provide services for families in need, has been able to retain all of its employees thanks to insurance coverage and community support, he said.
“Those seeds that we’ve sown — not with the intention of getting anything back — have sprouted and are bearing wonderful fruit for us, right now,” he said.
The restaurant will remodel and restore its collection of farm-themed artifacts, much of it donated by customers.
“The intention is for our customers to walk in and never know that anything’s happened,” Ecker said.
Another place returning to the food and drink scene did so in a big way.
Unlike other cafes that reopened with limited indoor seating, Coat Check Coffee resumed operations at the Athenaeum, 401 E. Michigan, last month with a lot more seating.
The coffee shop, located in the lobby of the 127-year-old building, had been closed since March but now has the entire second-floor Basile Theater for socially distanced seating for its customers.
Usage of the cabaret set-up space is temporary and available on those days when there are no show rehearsals, said head roaster Courtney Thompson.
“Our guests can sit here and socially distance. The theater felt like the perfect opportunity for that,” she said.
Coat Check Coffee is open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Kountry Kitchen, Rusted Silo back in action to serve customers