At long last, Maya Lovelace will turn on the fryers at her fried chicken counter Yonder this Saturday. The counter-service Southern restaurant, which begins serving lunch at 11 a.m., will sling catfish, baked pimento macaroni and cheese, and three styles of crispy poultry in the Jane Dough building — aka the former Delphina’s Bakery space.
Lovelace first announced plans to open a restaurant October 2017 via a newsletter update. Her pop-up, Mae, was already a sensation: Eater named Lovelace as one of the 2016 “Young Guns,” sort of a national 30 Under 30 for the restaurant industry. The several-course dinner arrives with countless stories: Lovelace’s memories cooking with her grandmother, the history of Southern and Appalachian food, and occasionally the background behind a bean or green hidden in a forthcoming stewed vegetable.
Yonder will be a quicker affair, getting right to business with an assortment of fried chicken options, sandwiches, and her underdog-stunner vegetable plates like bacon-braised collard greens and iceberg salad with pickled-ramp-and-buttermilk vinaigrette. Fried chicken comes in three varieties — dusted in dry spice blend, dipped in a North Carolina style sauce, or dunked in hot and spicy lard — with a side of a biscuit or cornbread. For those heading out the door, the restaurant offers a $57 to-go bucket with a whole chicken, four biscuits, and two 16-ounce sides like country-ham-braised baby lima beans and Carolina Gold rice or Comeback slaw.
Since the menu went live in January, Lovelace found herself a pastry chef and cocktail designer to handle the rest; Sarah Watt, formerly a pastry assistant at Little Bird, will make breads for sandwiches and cakes by the slice, while Kate Bolton, of the tragically short-lived Americano, covered the mixed drinks. Bolton’s menu plays with classic Southern drinks, adding sparkling rose to a mint julep for her Derby Hat and adding clarified buttermilk to her take on a Hurricane, the Hurricane Maya. The restaurant will also serve its beloved Meemaw’s Tea, a spiced peach tea spiked with moonshine.
The restaurant, designed by Oculus and Meagan Geer Designs, plays off its abundance of natural light with a sunny color scheme, with forest greens, sunshine yellows, and light blue throughout the space. The blue is a nod to the classic porch ceilings in the South, meant to ward off evil spirits and blend in with the sky. The restaurant goes even farther with the sky motif with a cloudy mural by local artist Ezra Butt, one of co-owner Zach Lefler’s childhood friends.
At the counter, a large felt menu board alludes to the classic meat and three signs throughout the South, where diners order dishes like fried chicken sandwiches. After ordering, customers can make their way to one of the dining room’s 36 seats at various oak tables and a large banquette, or they can grab a seat at the restaurant’s breeze-block bar — “Cute, but a little redneck, just like me!” she says.
Down the line, Lovelace plans to resume serving Mae dinners in the back room and begin brunch service at Yonder, with dishes like stone ground grits with catfish and tomato gravy as well as biscuit breakfast sandwiches and sourdough pancakes with apple butter and candied peanuts. But first, fried chicken, served under a haint blue ceiling. Take a look inside Yonder below:
• Yonder [Official]
• Yonder [Instagram]
• Everything to Know About Yonder, the Fried Chicken Restaurant from Maya Lovelace [EPDX]
• The Menu for Maya Lovelace’s Incoming Restaurant Is Here [EPDX]
• Breakout Pop-Up Mae Announces Brick-and-Mortar Restaurant [EPDX]
• It’s a Southern thing: Why so many porch ceilings are blue [The Washington Post]
• What We Mean When We Say “Meat ‘n’ Three” [Southern Living]