Friday, July 19, 2024

Soups, salads, artisanal breads, even ‘The Kitchen Sink’ coming to new 4th Street cafe

The Kitchen Sink will open in the Brooklyn Arts District in the old Foxes Boxes location in October, according to restaurateur Alicia Mitchell. (Port City Daily/Shea Carver)

WILMINGTON –– Alicia Mitchell has been selling out loaves of her homemade rosemary and everything baguettes every week at the local farmers markets for a while now. Soon enough, she will be making them available at her new restaurant in the Brooklyn Arts District. 

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“I like to make bread bowls,” Mitchell said by phone Monday. “I bake a pretzel bread bowl you can use with my cheddar ale soup that’s really good. I’ll be baking what I call a ‘naked donut loaf’ — it’s got all these spirals and pulls apart really easy. It’s brushed with condensed milk and butter, so it’s like a sweet bread. I’m gonna use it in my spin on Nashville hot chicken.”

Mitchell will be serving these items and more at The Kitchen Sink (TKS), slated to open mid-October on North Fourth Street in the former Foxes Boxes location. Another item on the menu she is looking forward to creating: soups. Mitchell said her love for them began early in youth thanks to her mother.

“I lost her at a young age, but we didn’t have a lot growing up and she could figure out how to make the best soups out of what seemed like nothing in the cabinet — everything but the kitchen sink,” Mitchell described.

Weekly, Mitchell plans to churn out four small batches, in addition to a daily special. Turkey, sausage and kale, Greek lemon chicken, seared spicy shrimp, and Mexican street corn will be among eight in rotation. There will be seasonal offerings as well — such as gazpachos, from a traditional TKS variety to watermelon-mint-cucumber. 

A perfect companion to every cup or bowl will be offered on the sandwich board, including handhelds like a smashed avocado with red onion and Muenster, a lavender chicken salad or a classic NOLA hot take, the muffaletta.

“I also want to offer something you can’t really get anywhere in town anymore: beef on weck,” Mitchell said. 

She was speaking to the former South College Deli, which closed in 2020 because of stressors from the pandemic. The sandwich shop was well-known for its traditional take on the Buffalo, N.Y., specialty. 

“That will be a staple at TKS,” she said.

Mitchell will be kneading the restaurant’s traditional kümmelweck rolls with caraway seeds and kosher salt, to be topped with slow-roasted beef, served with its au jus and homemade horseradish sauce.

Alicia Mitchell said TKS’s beef on weck, on homemade kümmelweck rolls, will be a staple at her cafe on 4th Street, slated to open next month. (Port City Daily/Courtesy photo)

Sandwiches will be joined by a small menu of salads — traditional Greek and chef’s, as well as pear, gorgonzola and walnut. ”I also do a herb tomato and homemade ricotta salad,” MItchell said. “It’s kind of a little bit different, but it’s super tasty.”

Smaller side salads, mac and cheese and three varieties of fries (plain, tallow or truffle) will be offered among  unique items like candied bacon, pork belly burnt ends and a crispy cheese rollup.

After spending 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry, Mitchell decided to retire her chemistry degree in January, and by summer, took over the lease at the Southern Furniture Co. building. She has been outfitting the cafe, with boxes upon boxes of herbs aligning the wall on the other side of a glassed-in entryway. The space comfortably seats 50 diners on its rustic wood bench seating, metal bistro tables and cozy vintage furniture dispersed throughout.

“There’s an old 1889 door as a table that we got from downtown Wilmington from Legacy Architectural Salvage,” she said, “and an old working Victrola to spin records on.” 

It will be her first time as a restaurateur, though Mitchell admitted having some experience in the industry, waiting tables and cooking in kitchens earlier in life. “You know, I love serving people and also love community involvement,” she said. “I’ve been dreaming about this for about seven years now.”

Mitchell took classes to construct her business plan, which will include offering a work program for “people who otherwise couldn’t get employment.” In addition to her estimated staff of eight, she wants to hire one or two people that are either at-risk students or someone needing help to get back on their feet. Mitchell envisions training them for 12 months, helping certify them via ServSafe, and building their résumés, in order to make them “hirable” for another restaurant. Then she will start the process all over again.

“I’ve recently spoken to a couple of different nonprofits and they have something similar that they are already doing,” Mitchell said. “So I will partner with them.”

She will be working with Voyage (formerly the Blue Ribbon Commission), which focuses on the prevention of youth violence, and Vigilant Hope, which Mitchell said her husband is employed by currently. The nonprofit works toward helping people out of poverty.

At first Mitchell plans to open TKS for lunch only, Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Delivery will be offered to downtown businesses from 4th to Water streets via electric bike during the lunch rush. Regular delivery will be offered through DoorDash.

“And then I’m hoping six months down the road, I can open up for dinner and open the patio space in the back — we will have beer and wine by then.”

Below is The Kitchen Sink menu, which may change before its opening.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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