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The go-to soul food restaurant patronized by notables in sports, government and entertainment is reopening for business to the public next week.
Kountry Kitchen Soul Food Place, closed since a devastating fire in January, is reopening for takeout and catering at 1417 Commerce Ave. on Nov. 3.
“We just wanted to come out on election day,” said Cynthia Wilson, who owns the business with her husband, Isaac. “In past elections, We were fairly busy and people would stop in for lunch.”
Fried chicken, right out of the fryer, at Kountry Kitchen Soul Food Place, Indianapolis, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019. At least two thousand fried chicken dinners will be distributed to area people in need for the Christmas Holiday. A number of area vendors, businesses, and non-profits helped provide toys, baked goods, and volunteers for the effort. (Photo: Robert Scheer)
They still plan to rebuild near the original 19th Street and College Avenue location, reopening a dine-in restaurant by late 2021.
Kountry Kitchen has been doing light catering for about a month out of the facility on Commerce Avenue. Owner Riley Area Development Corp. had been allowing the Wilsons to use the building to store some equipment. The space had housed a candy factory, and the Wilsons decided to put the commercial kitchen there to use.
“It started off as just a catering facility,” Cynthia Wilson said. “But the demand was just there. People kept asking when we were going to open back up.”
“It’s been almost a year. You can only be closed for so long and make it. So we decided to go ahead and try to do carryout only.’
The abbreviated menu at the takeout locale will feature Kountry Kitchen’s top sellers, including chicken wings, baked chicken, fried and smothered pork chops, neckbones, catfish, collard greens, yams, dressing and macaroni and cheese.
“We don’t have the room to do our full menu in the location that we’re in,” she said.
It will be open Tuesday through Sunday, from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Customers can call, visit or use an app to order. Curbside service will be available, as will delivery through Grubhub.
It will be the first chance for the general public to get food from the 31-year-old Kountry Kitchen since a pop-up dinner series last spring at The Vanguard, 6319 Guilford Ave., in Broad Ripple.
After a fire destroyed the original 100-year-old, two-story brick building at 1831 N. College Ave. on Jan. 11, the Wilsons pledged to bring back the neighborhood anchor that had drawn the likes of Vice President Mike Pence and comedian/actor Mike Epps.
Kountry Kitchen’s annual Christmas Day dinner had fed 3,000 needy community members just weeks before the fire.
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The Wilsons own the College Avenue property and plan to replace Kountry Kitchen with a new single-story,15,000-square-foot restaurant and event center, along with a parking lot. Kountry Kitchen customers had been parking along College Avenue.
They’d planned to remodel the restaurant and build an event center before the fire to host events — weddings and church, civic and sorority functions — that they had been catering at other facilities, Wilson said.
The menu will be the same.
Cynthia Wilson, co-owner, smiles as she and others wait for fried chicken to come out of the fryer at Kountry Kitchen Soul Food Place, Indianapolis, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019. At least two thousand fried chicken dinners will be distributed to area people in need for the Christmas Holiday. A number of area vendors, businesses, and non-profits helped provide toys, baked goods, and volunteers for the effort. (Photo: Robert Scheer)
For the most part, the Wilsons, who had been used to being at the restaurant seven days a week, have taken the time since the fire to relax.
“It had been at least 10 years since we’d been on vacation,” she said. “We hadn’t been in our house and able to sit down and have dinner and watch a movie. We haven’t been able to do anything together for the last 10 years.”
“So this is a change of pace for us; enjoying the grandchildren.”
Still, they were regularly fielding calls from customers inquiring about the return of the city’s oldest soul food restaurant.
“We just really want to thank the public for their support and being patient with us. And their support through the years,” she said.
Contact IndyStar reporter Cheryl V. Jackson at [email protected] or 317-444-6264. Follow her on Twitter: @cherylvjackson.
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