By Kabrea James, Black by God
“Imagine going to Italy for vacation and losing weight,” Sinquiss Anderson said laughing, “We had about two good meals and we were there for nine days.”
“We were so ‘hangry’ when we got back that we were like ‘You know what? We’re going to open up a restaurant,” Sharell Harmon added.
Best friends Harmon and Anderson, better known as “Rell” and “Kiki” returned from their trip with a feeling of inspiration they just couldn’t shake. This vision would quickly manifest into The Southern Kitchen WV.
“We came back and decided that we were no longer going to work for somebody else and that we were going to start something for ourselves,” Harmon said.
Within 24 hours of returning home, Harmon applied for a business license and the dream of the Southern Kitchen WV took off from there. And when it came down to who would do the cooking, Harmon and Anderson were up for the challenge.
“It’s just us from the front to the back,” Harmon said, “It’s soul food so it’s stuff she learned from her family, stuff I learned from my family. There are certain dishes I’ll take on and other dishes she’ll take on. Now that we’ve come together, we have this unique taste that I don’t think anyone could replicate. We dance in the kitchen, we play music, we laugh. We got our joy back.”
The ladies behind The Southern Kitchen WV soon started working out of the Homestead School in Dailey, WV, serving food to their new customers one day out of the week.
“We got so much support out there and Dailey is like fifteen minutes in the middle of nowhere,” Harmon said, “We were shocked at what we could bring in revenue wise just being there on a Sunday for four hours. That was proof enough that we would be successful in a city with way more people.”
The pair then started working with Elkins Main Street, a downtown revitalization program focused on community development. The program provided Harmon and Anderson with data related to community engagement, which revealed that more than half wanted to bring soul food to the area.
“Ever since then people have proven that,” Harmon said, “We have over a thousand followers on Facebook. We haven’t even opened yet.”
This will soon change, as the restaurant’s grand opening is set for Nov. 5. The celebration begins Nov. 4 with a buffet style dinner for friends of the business, followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony the next day to honor the new space.
The Southern Kitchen WV is located at 2285 Beverly Pike Suite 3, in Elkins, WV, where the Black population is approximately 3%. Harmon and Anderson both expressed reluctance in starting a business here during early planning stages.
“How do you know that the population in regards to race wouldn’t be a factor?” Harmon asked, “There were a lot of questions but they were good questions. I’ve lived here for eight years and I have experienced some hardship when it came to being a black woman here but not enough to run away. This is where we’ll start and we’ll build from here to go where we need to go. Randolph County is special.”
In the meantime, people from all throughout the state are reaching out to Harmon and Anderson with catering requests and inquiries about when they can expect the restaurant to open.
“We want to meet new people and bring them into our space,” Harmon said, “We want people to be like ‘Oh, I want to go to Kiki and Rell’s’”.
In addition to serving savory soul food, the pair plans to host events such as paint and sips, game nights and basic cooking classes.
“We want to create a space of collaboration, love, family and unison,” Harmon explained, “We are so overwhelmed with joy and anxious to see what we can bring to the community cause it seems that people really want us here.”
2285 Beverly Pike Suite 3, Elkins, WV 26241
FACEBOOK: The Southern Kitchen WV