The term “blessing in disguise” can sometimes feel more like a coping mechanism than a true statement. But Kountry Kitchen Soul Food Place co-owner Cynthia Wilson will make you a believer in the concept. Her year started with a devastating fire that did irreparable damage to the restaurant she and her husband, Isaac, opened in 1988, a neighborhood favorite and celebrity destination (former President Barack Obama visited in 2008). As they were making plans to rebuild as a 15,000-square-foot restaurant and event center, COVID-19 hit, forcing another pause.
After a few months, they reopened for carryout and catering, working out of a nearby commercial kitchen space. Customers came back in force to pick up top sellers like fried catfish and smothered pork chops. “It was so heartwarming to see the community come back and support us,” says Cynthia. “My husband and I believe the restaurant industry will come back, but it will never be the same. So we’re changing our model, too.” The Wilsons are still rebuilding the new restaurant and event center, but they’re adding a large patio for outdoor dining, reducing capacity inside, and continuing to grow the carryout business. 1417 Commerce Ave., 317-635-6000, kountrykitchenindy.com