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

Chef Liz's Downtown Raleigh Restaurant Week Picks

Chef Liz's Downtown Raleigh Restaurant Week Picks

Calling all foodies! It’s Downtown Raleigh Restaurant Week, y’all, which means dozens of Raleigh’s best eateries are flaunting special menus with special prices every day of the week. While we’re installing our new commercial refrigerator (which feels amazing in this summer heat), our own Chef Liz Reedy jotted down what you should Instagram at her #DRRW faves.

Breakfast in DTR: Joule · 223 South Wilmington Street

“Joule! They have fantastic coffee, a great space to work in or meet up with friends, and their Breakfast of Champions is super delicious. They’re also one of our neighbors at Carroll’s Kitchen and their staff is so friendly.”

Lunch in DTR: lucettegrace  ·  235 South Salisbury Street

“I love lucettegrace for lunch. Their ham and cheese sandwich cannot be beat! Bread, butter, ham and gruyere cheese. I might need to go there today. They also have the most gorgeous pastry case I have ever seen (or tasted), and hot caramel instead of hot chocolate!”

Dinner in DTR: Babylon  ·  309 North Dawson Street

“For special occasion dinners, my go to is Babylon. It’s a Moroccan restaurant inside of an amazing building. They have so many fantastic dishes with great big flavor, you really can’t go wrong, but make sure you try their Oyster Rockefeller. It’s the stuff of dreams.” Check out what Walter Magazine has to say about Babylon.

Dessert/Snack in DTR: Boulted Bread  ·  614 West South Street

“For snacks and desserts, Boulted is my go to. Their croissants, breads, and pastries are pure perfection. You can make friends at parties very quickly with a bag of their goodies.” Bonus: Boulted is one of bon appétit’s Best New Bakeries in America!

Chef Liz is a lifelong foodie with a passion for reaching people through food. Not only does she make awesome food, she loves teaching people how to make awesome food, which makes her a great fit at Carroll’s Kitchen. In addition to raising a young daughter, she teaches classes at Whisk and the Holly Springs Farmers Market, and is wrapping up her culinary training at Wake Tech. She hopes her food will make you smile when you visit us soon.


More than just a meal...


We have big dreams for Raleigh—dreams to end homelessness and dreams to inspire our city. And like most dreams, they start to become reality through small decisions.

The decision to care. The decision to learn. The decision to bring people together. The decision to create opportunities.

We’re inviting you to be part of creating opportunities as well. When you enjoy a meal at Carroll’s Kitchen, you create an opportunity for us to provide job training for women transitioning from homelessness.

Because we’re more than just a meal. You’re creating opportunity for us, we’re creating opportunity for the women in our job-training program, and they’re creating opportunity for all of us to be inspired to create opportunities for others.

Just like Carroll’s Kitchen is the result of many small decisions that have amounted to something bigger than ourselves, as a person with purpose and inherent worth, your decisions matter, too.

What decisions can you make this week to do good in the community?

Donate to a cause, share a meal with your neighbor, mentor a child, thank a nurse. Need ideas? Sign up with Activate Good or check out our Partners page.

Carroll’s Kitchen is more than just a meal, and we hope you’ll be inspired to join us in doing something #good4raleigh.


We get by with a little help from our friends


It takes a village to open a restaurant, and a whole city to open a nonprofit social enterprise restaurant.

Trust us, we know.

We also know that we want to do one thing really, really well: run that restaurant. Because running the best restaurant we can means giving the women in the Carroll’s Kitchen program the best opportunities we can.

Opportunities to love others - but more importantly, to love themselves.

Opportunities to learn about others - but more importantly, to learn about themselves.

But we don’t want to reinvent the wheel, we don’t want to ignore likeminded work of other organizations, and we don’t want our own ideas to become silos. So from the very beginning we named “community” as one of our core values, and it’s a principle we refer to with every decision we make.

“Who knows more about this idea than we do?” “Whose advice can we seek?” “Who can we ask for help?”

(In fact, you might recall from our last blog post that we’re collaborating with Families Together to provide safe and dignified housing for the women in our program.)

Our ever-growing official partner list includes:

  • Activate Good

  • Interfaith Food Shuttle

  • Raleigh Rescue Mission

  • Step Up Ministry

  • Interact

  • Salvation Army Project FIGHT

  • Dress for Success

  • The Women’s Center of Wake Co

  • Benevolence Farm

  • The YMCA

  • A Place at the Table

  • Mission Increase

  • Interfaith Prison Ministry for Women

  • Healing Transitions

  • The Hope Center at Pullen

  • Urban Ministries of Wake County

  • Passage Home

  • Alliance Medical Ministry

  • The Green Chair Project

  • Triangle Family Services

  • Jobs for Life

  • Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation

  • Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness


That’s a lot of awesomeness coming together to support Carroll’s Kitchen. We couldn’t be more honored that so many passionate organizations, some of which have been lending a hand to Raleigh families for generations, believe in Carroll’s Kitchen enough to partner with us - or in other words, to show us the way as we take a leap of faith and open our doors this summer.

We couldn’t do this work without them, just like we can’t do this work without you.

You might say we get by with a little help from our friends.





A Restaurant with a Social Mission


Check out this article written by Raleigh Magazine: 

“When my church put out a challenge to pitch ways to love Raleigh, I pitched my idea to run a non-profit restaurant with living quarters close by for homeless folks. The business part would eventually generate dollars to sustain itself,” she says. “They loved the idea, and Jim asked if I knew about a location next door that could work. He walked me through the space that day, and the dream began to take shape.”

Click here to keep reading!


The solution to homelessness is…


You guessed it: housing.

Sort of. 

The latest Point In Time count totaled 818 people experiencing homelessness in Raleigh, but that was just the number of people the survey takers could find on that one very cold day in January. 

Nearly 300 of those people, some sheltered and some not - because you can be homeless and have shelter - are women. They are someone’s mother. Someone’s sister. Someone’s aunt. Someone’s wife. They are someone.

Each woman’s story is unique but every single one is heartbreaking because they all center around loss, and not just loss of four walls and a roof.

Loss of dignity, loss of self, loss of purpose. 

So what are we going to do about that? 

We’re partnering with local housing support organization Families Together to arrange safe and dignified housing for the women working in our restaurant.  

Together we’ll help a woman leaving homelessness put herself back together so she can put her life back together. We want her to do it for herself, but never by herself.

Housing - home - means the Carroll’s Kitchen women can return to the same, safe place each night to sleep in their own bed, use their own bathroom, put away their clean clothes, and …. well, think of the thousand small things you to do take care of yourself every day. Women experiencing homelessness can do nearly none (if any) of those things, but something as simple as stable housing can begin to change all that.

Safe and dignified housing will immediately change a crucial suffix - a woman who was homeless will become homeful. And those words are not ironically similar to hopeless and hopeful. But we know it’s much more than just grammar and spelling, and we’re ready.

Will you join us?