Appalachian fried chicken maven and culinary storyteller Maya Lovelace is still trying to build her Southern food haven Yonder, but she needs some help: Lovelace launched a Kickstarter March 13, hoping to raise a whopping $75,000 by April 12 to avoid depending on investors or loans.
“Because this is such a personal project, I don’t feel comfortable putting my grandma’s name in somebody else’s hands,” Lovelace said over catfish platters at Po’Shines. Mae is named for Lovelace’s grandmother, who taught her to cook on visits to Hickory, North Carolina. The Kickstarter is currently around $25,000 at time of publication, leaving $50,000 to raise in around two weeks.
“Kickstarter is crazy. I’m already an anxious person, so feeding myself extra anxiety is interesting,” Lovelace said with a laugh. The chef is currently adding a few new rewards, including more chef collaboration dinners. Currently, rewards include private chef meals, winemaker and farm dinners, and, at the very lowest level, a whisper of thanks into a simmering pot of collard greens.
Lovelace recently shared the restaurant’s latest blueprints, which include a bar and counter-height communal tables “true to its meat-and-three roots,” referring to barbecue restaurants that often feature long picnic tables instead of two-and-four-tops. The restaurant will also seat 12 outside, for “champagne and people watching.”
Lovelace plans to paint the ceiling the traditional Southern haint blue, “the color you paint the ceiling of your front porch so that the spirits on your doorstep don’t recognize they’re on your doorstep and go off — to ward off evil spirits, basically.”
For those who aren’t obsessively tracking this new fried chicken joint, Yonder will specialize in buckets of the Southern gold that started a phenomenon at Lovelace’s popular pop-up, Mae. Lovelace is excited to export her fried chicken to the new restaurant, allowing Mae to focus on distinct vegetable dishes and creative Appalachian delicacies.
In Oregonian critic Michael Russell’s words, Yonder will serve “as a front porch” for Mae, which will find a consistent home in the restaurant’s back room. Four nights each week, Lovelace will serve her specific story of the South with a set-price menu, leaving the chicken devotees to the front counter.
Lovelace hopes to open Yonder this July in the former Delphina’s Bakery space.
• Mae [Facebook]
• Build Mae + Yonder a Permanent Home on NE 42nd Ave [Kickstarter]
• Meet Yonder, the new restaurant from chef Maya Lovelace of Mae [The O]
• All Mae coverage [EPDX]