Kindred Spirits 35

Joe & Katy Kindred Bring Fine Fare and Worldly Flair to Davidson

When I was a student at Davidson, our off-campus dining options were pretty limited. If you didn’t want the fried fare of the Brickhouse or a styrofoamed shake from the Soda Shop, you piled into your roommate’s car and trekked into the big city. These days, students and residents of the wee town have it much easier. When the craving for James Beard-nominated, Bon Appetit-favored fare strikes, well, they just take a stroll down Main Street to Kindred.

Housed in the former home of the (seemingly immortal) Tom Clark Museum, where dusty gnomes used to peer through newspapered windows, you’ll now find the airy, chicly rustic restaurant. With squishy, well-worn leather chairs and shining subway tiles, it’s part modern and part provincial.

That embodiment of all different eras and cultures was exactly the intention of owners and chefs Joe and Katy Kindred. After individual careers traveling the world and working in some of the best restaurants across the globe, Katy and Joe crossed paths while employed at the Pump Room in Chicago. When it came time to settle down and start a family, the Kindreds decided on Joe’s old hometown of Davidson. “We knew we eventually wanted to start a restaurant close to family where we could make a big impact,” Katy remembers. They envisioned a restaurant on Main Street downtown, but never did they anticipate the viability of their wildest dreams.

Though the community warned them of the unlikelihood of Clark surrendering his prized location on Main Street, the Kindreds asked to see the space anyways, convincing the broker to pitch their restaurant idea to Clark. And then, miraculously, they gained approval to turn the space into Kindred.

The award-winning restaurant is on the brink of its second anniversary and as successful as ever. The self-described “chef-driven” Kindred presents global fare with a Southern twist. “When we put the project together, we never wanted to pigeonhole ourselves; we wanted to be able to adapt and evolve,” she explains. “The spirit of the restaurant is marked by our experiences together through all our travel, our work with all different chefs, and our varied experiences put together. ‘Chef-driven’ is the only way to call it—it’s literally driven by the experiences of the owners.”

Even though the dishes at Kindred are distinctly worldly, they’re also distinctly Southern. “When you work with your regional ingredients, you’re going to be influenced by them,” Katy says. But “Southern” doesn’t just mean biscuits and butter. “Sometimes people look at Southern food differently, like it’s never supposed to change, but that’s just not the case. It should also evolve and change. Otherwise it gets boring.”

The dish the Chef Joe Kindred prepared for us this month is anything but boring. Try making this bucatini at home for a citrusy twist on the classic dish.