Hot Off The Press: N&O + 919 Blog

Check out our most recent media coverage, including a mention by highly acclaimed Raleigh News & Observer food critic Greg Cox. 

Eye opener: House specialty kolaches – Central European pillows of pastry – are offered here with a dozen or so sweet and savory fillings, from egg, cheese and peppers to apple butter and brie.

Note: Carroll’s Kitchen is a nonprofit restaurant dedicated to ending homelessness for women in Raleigh. It’s takeout only, so go ahead and pick up an assortment. (Pro tip: They reheat nicely in a 300 degree oven for about 10 minutes).

If you need a quick breakfast or lunch on the go, Carroll’s Kitchen is your best bet. The kolaches are freshly made daily, and you can get 4 for just $6! The best part about Carroll’s Kitchen is that it’s more than just a restaurant. It’s a non-profit dedicated to ending the cycle of homelessness for Raleigh women.

Hospitality Two Ways

group food show.jpg

Talk given by Sara Acosta at Hayes Barton United Methodist Church on September 8.  

Carroll’s Kitchen is redefining hospitality in the restaurant industry … but not like you might think.

Yes, we serve the downtown Raleigh community with favorite sandwiches, salads, and sweet treats. We have five stars on Yelp and we rotate weekly specials. We employ a chef and a general manager and a trained kitchen staff.

But that’s not the kind of hospitality I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the kind of hospitality that welcomes the stranger.

That washes the feet of the person at your door.

That pours oil over your head worth a year’s pay.

The kind of hospitality that greets the woman at the well as the inherently worthy person she is.

Let’s look to Dutch priest Henri Nouwen for a more complete picture:

“Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.”

At Carroll’s Kitchen, hospitality means strangers become friends as we spend about a year together during a woman’s job training and life skills programming.

It means a woman now has a safe and dignified place to work through the traumas of homelessness - and all the grief that came before - in the comfort of her own room in our team home.

It means we’re learning how to work with each other (and sometimes working on ourselves) in the kitchen day in and day out, one kolache at a time.

We're a restaurant rethinking hospitality, because at one time or another, we're all the woman at the well. 

Q + A + Lindsey

North Carolina native and Raleigh nonprofit pro Lindsey Blankenhorn is set to join our team as executive director on July 5. Check out our Q + A with Lindsey to learn more about her - it won't take long to see why she's a fantastic fit for Team CK.

What career path led you to Carroll's Kitchen?

I’ve had the great pleasure of working with Mission Increase Raleigh for the last five years. I’ve worked closely with dozens of local nonprofits on organizational health and sustainability, and Carroll’s Kitchen is one of the organizations that captivated me from its inception.

Which of your passions manifest in leading Carroll's Kitchen?

Well two passions, really. Good food! I believe that some of our most sacred moments happen around the table, and with good food. I personally have always loved cooking and serving those I love - it's one of the most satisfying feelings of my daily routine. Being a part of an organization that does that for others really excites me.

I also really believe in the power of restoration. Helping women get a foothold on life again so that they might be equipped and excited to step into life more prepared and believing in themselves - that's the most exciting thing! I'm so looking forward to walking alongside our women.

What does empowerment mean to you?

To me, it means giving people the tools they need to craft their own future. Equipping folks with the self esteem, love, encouragement, along with practical life skills to get them to a place where they can say, “I can do this. I believe in myself. Let's go!”

What do you do in your free time/for fun?

Free time looks a little bit different these days. My husband Richard and I have a newborn daughter, Ada. We spend our time on walks and getting to know the sweet little human. We love to cook and throw parties for those we love.

What titles are currently on your nightstand? 

  • The New Jim Crow, by Alexander
  • Just Mercy, by Stevenson
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, by Atwood
  • BabyWise

Welcome to the team, Lindsey!


CK House: The Finishing Touches

With paint brushes in hand and big dreams for the future, we've mostly finished the updates to the Carroll's Kitchen a house - a safe and dignified place for the women in our job training program to call home as they make big steps towards leaving homelessness.

[Read our CK house announcement on Instagram.]

After paint, carpet, and furniture, we still need help with finishing touches - the little details that make a house a home. So, how can you help?

  • Check out our Bed, Bath, & Beyond registry
  • We love us some gift cards. Department store, grocery store, and home improvement store gift cards are especially helpful. You can drop them at the restaurant or mail them to: 19 East Martin Street Raleigh, NC 27601. 

Thank you for making Carroll's Kitchen a reality. Let's get back out there and make it #morethanjustameal together!

Twelve Days of Carroll's

Photo: Bill Dickinson, City street holiday decorations - Raleigh, NC USA via Flickr.

Photo: Bill Dickinson, City street holiday decorations - Raleigh, NC USA via Flickr.

Our Twelve Days of Carroll's is a playful celebration of three months of open doors - doors we can't keep open without you. To support our work as a nonprofit, social enterprise restaurant committed to hiring women recovering from homelessness, click here to make a secure, tax-deductible donation. 

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

A ladle and a kolache

Two soup specials

Three catering orders

Four Italian subs

Five golden quiche

Six cookies baking

Seven blue plate specials

Eight begonia bandanas

Nine pots of coffee

Ten collard wraps

Eleven pickled peppers

Twelve grilled cheese

P.S. Check out our menu to read descriptions of the delicious items in our song!

Make a secure, tax-deductible donation to Carroll's Kitchen today.

A Letter From Jim

Dear Friends,

At the end of December, I will be moving to Ohio to be closer to some family. I believe this is a great thing for not only me, my wife, and our young kids, but also for Carroll's Kitchen.

It has been an absolute joy to be part of starting Carroll's Kitchen. It's one of the proudest accomplishments of my life and an experience that I will always look back on with immense delight. I have met so many incredible people over the last couple years and I'm honored to count you as friends.

Let me first be clear: the community support for Carroll's Kitchen has been incredible and business is going way better than we expected. Our general manager, Nina, knows how to run an excellent restaurant and our chef, Liz, produces amazing food that has people coming back again and again. We average 55% return rate for customers and our sales are already 30 - 40% higher than we predicted.

Our finances have been in the black since day one, and we have you, our customers and supporters to thank for that! It's one of the reasons I can feel comfortable stepping away at this time - because I fully trust that we're in great hands.

When Vicky shared the idea of a nonprofit restaurant with me back in January of 2015, I immediately knew this was something I couldn’t NOT be part of. So after a few months of praying and exploring the idea further, I made a bold decision to quit my job so I could focus full attention on launching this dream into reality. From the beginning, I knew my role was to get the doors of the restaurant open, and then we would reassess the needs of the organization from there.

We formed a board and became a nonprofit in August 2015, got our 501c3 status in March 2016, threw a killer launch party with 250 friends in April where we announced our location at 19 East Martin Street, raised over $200,000, and opened our doors on September 19. I'm so proud to have been able to launch a business/nonprofit in just over a year of work because the community was hungry for something like what we were creating.

Vicky and I had been discussing for the last several months that based on our individual strengths and expertise, it might make sense for the organization if we were to switch roles. Given her 35 years of restaurant experience and her ability to mentor the women in our program, it seemed more natural that she should hold the Executive Director title. And given my strengths in bringing people to the table and creating structure, we thought I might add more value as the board president.

So while I won't be here physically as much as I was, I'll still be involved as a founder and on the board. In swapping roles, we both feel that the organization is now better poised for the next phase of our mission and vision. We have also brought on a part-time program director, Theresa Garrett, to help with some of the program and public engagement opportunities.

Around the same time we were discussing this transition, my wife and I found out we are expecting our third child, and we have been wanting to get closer to our family support network. I had been simultaneously feeling a pull to be part of some of the revitalization happening in my hometown of Youngstown, Ohio.

All of this combined led us to make the decision to leave a city and a community and a job that I have loved so much - in pursuit of a new adventure.

We so much appreciate your prayers and support for my family, for Carroll's Kitchen, for the women in our program, and for the community as whole. We look forward to continue to push forward with you until our vision is achieved: that there would be no more women experiencing homelessness in Raleigh.

Thanks for helping us be more than just a meal.

Jim Freeze
Co-Founder and Board President
Carroll's Kitchen

Transformation At 19 East Martin Street

Before and after shots of our renovated space on Martin Street in downtown Raleigh.

As humans we transform constantly in search of the truest form of ourselves, sometimes in spite of tragic obstacles beyond our control.

When we began the renovation process at 19 East Martin Street, we had a vision for the restaurant that started with seeing beyond the space’s various functional and aesthetic needs.

We scrubbed and painted for a long while. We chose a particular counter top and specific flooring. A special ceiling fan and unique lighting. Details. Details. And more details.

We were picky about the aesthetic of Carroll’s Kitchen because it reflects how we feel about our customers and about our organization. And more importantly, it reflects how we value the women in our job training program.

Hospitality is a big deal to us - it’s all about understanding what a person needs in order to feel safe, valued, and heard. We want the women in our program to experience a space that fosters opportunities for them to discover a true - maybe even the truest - form of themselves. We pray that they feel safe, valued, and heard among our freshly painted walls and glistening counter tops.

But pink (or begonia or electric salmon depending on who you ask) paint only goes so far. Hospitality must lead our relationships as well. Do our conversations create opportunities for growth? Do our interactions create opportunities for common ground?

Sometimes our work is more questions than answers - and that’s okay, because at the end of the day we're committed to excellence in ourselves and in the food we serve in our community. 

Thanks for helping us create opportunities for women leaving homelessness. Let’s practice hospitality together and make it more than just a meal. 

The Gift Of Empowerment

Team Carroll's Kitchen // Photo by Wells Thompson

Team Carroll's Kitchen // Photo by Wells Thompson

Sometimes you need someone to love you until you can figure out how to love yourself.

It’s a wall we all hit at some point. Disappointment, grief, failure - or any combination thereof - paralyzes us.

“Can I do this?”

“Is it worth it?”

“Am I worth it?”

Then that extraordinary person steps in. Maybe for you it was the fellow coffee-loving friend you met when you moved into town. Or the woman you make small talk with on the bus every morning. Or the coworker who gets you. That one relationship blossomed into just what you needed at just the right time.

That extraordinary person listened to you. Showed up for you. Empowered you - to decide for yourself to move through and beyond your fear and embrace that big change. (Change is no joke y’all.)

We want to be that extraordinary influence for the women in our job training and life skills program. And we also recognize that Carroll’s Kitchen is the collective work of oh so many extraordinary people who stepped in and said, “We support you. We believe in you. You are worth it!”

And on the harder days, like when the huge, glistening deli case arrives and doesn’t fit through the front door, we think back on everyone who has loved Carroll’s Kitchen through this giant leap of faith. This giant change. And we disassemble the door frame and crack some tile and roll up our sleeves and get it done. Because they are worth it.

Supporters of every kind have nudged us along and believed in us, even before we had a space.

So today we are uniquely proud and humbled to announce another group of people who believe in Carroll’s Kitchen, empowering us to do good in Raleigh through fresh and local food. Square 1 Bank has donated $50,000 to Carroll’s Kitchen, and honestly we kind of don’t know what to say. Except thank you.

We’re proud that Square 1 sees so much hope in Carroll’s Kitchen, the kind of hope we share with and for our community. And humbled that anyone would invest so much in such a new venture.

Thanks for believing in us.

That pride and empowerment we feel through such a generous gift is the same pride and empowerment we hope the women in our program will feel through you—our customers and supporters—when you come buy the food that they are pouring their heart and soul into.

We can’t think of a more empowering message, a message that says “We support you. We believe in you. You are worth it!”

See you at 19 East Martin.

- Team CK

A New Century Of Carroll

Fayetteville Street, Raleigh, 1910

Fayetteville Street, Raleigh, 1910

It's a question we hear a lot, especially as a new restaurant with a story to tell.

"Who's Carroll?"

Back when we were just sketching out ideas for a nonprofit/social enterprise hybrid that would change Raleigh with good food, we stumbled upon an old church's fellowship hall named Carroll Dining Hall, and we thought the space might work for the restaurant. 

To pay homage, we started referring to our idea as Carroll’s Kitchen, and it stuck.

Out of curiosity, we researched the Carroll family and soon realized that that Mr. & Mrs. Carroll would have loved to see an idea like Carroll’s Kitchen come to life in Raleigh.

In the early 1900s, Ernest and Della Carroll, residents of 10 North Bloodworth Street, fiercely sowed their resources into the people of the city. Ernest was heavily involved in Baraca youth, an international Bible study for young men. He also served as Scout Master of a local Boy Scouts chapter and was a lay leader in his church. 

In 1918, the devastating Spanish Flu outbreak hit Raleigh, infecting 40% of the population. Ernest led the effort to operate a free soup kitchen and posted a sign outside the church that it was open to people “of any race or creed."

That same year, Mr. Carroll poured so much of himself into living out his faith that he died of the disease.

Della Carroll continued their work in the community by inspiring and empowering young men in the Camp Polk Prison Farm. She advocated on their behalf on multiple occasions, often helping them to obtain parole or acquittal. Della donated over 1,000 books to the prison library over the course of her monthly visits. She also spent time with girls at a local orphanage and gave Christmas gifts to them every year.

We continued to be amazed - and proud - that the Carroll Family legacy speaks the same truth as our restaurant, that everyone can do something to make our city a better place for everyone.

The Carroll family story lives on today as we prepare to care for people who have lived on the edge of society for far too long.

We hope you’ll join us - by eating with us, sending your friends to us, and/or backing our Kickstarter