The biscuits are warming in the oven. And the pecan pie is cooling on the windowsill. The highly anticipated opening of Nellie’s Southern Kitchen in downtown Belmont, North Carolina, is set for 11 a.m. on June 13.
“We have taken great care in restoring this 80-year-old building, assembling our team and developing a menu my grandmother would approve of,” says Kevin Jonas, Sr., entrepreneur, musician, and father of the famous pop trio bearing the family name. “Our staff of close to 100, which includes cooks, servers, musicians, singers and performers, cannot wait for opening day.”
The Jonas family learned the art of Southern hospitality from matriarch Nellie Jonas (Jonas’ maternal grandmother), who passed away in 2011. The restaurant is a loving tribute to her.
The food is Southern comfort cuisine made with the best local ingredients. Think: Fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, and shrimp and grits as well as homemade breads and pastries. The menu will also offer lighter dishes for those who want healthier versions of their favorite Southern comfort food.
Executive Chef Ben Sholiton and Jonas began extensive menu tastings last fall. Cecilia Jonas Lucas (Jonas’ mother and Nellie’s daughter) weighed in on which dishes would meet Nellie’s approval. The menu features a la carte items as well as a Family Style option of a shared three course meal including two starters, two main dishes, two sides, two desserts, biscuits and cornbread. Chef Sholiton will also run multiple daily specials.
Sholiton has been part of 12 restaurant openings and three re-launches in a career that dates back to 2001. He’s designed menus from scratch, hired, and trained an entire staff and managed both back- and front-of-house operations. He’s owned his own catering company, managed restaurants, served as executive chef and kitchen manager, worked as a personal chef and been a corporate chef.
Pastry Chef Emily Pentecost has adapted Nellie’s tried-and-true recipes. Some have been made a little lighter than they once were. Others have all the cream, sugar and butter Nellie preferred.
Entertaining is as much a part of the Jonas family story as good, home cooking. From the beginning, the Jonas patriarch has planned for entertainment to be part of the experience.
The restaurant staff will do more than serve food and drinks; many will also provide entertainment, creating a lively, family-friendly atmosphere where your server may spontaneously jump on stage and belt out a song.
The restaurant is housed in a 10,000-square-foot brick building in the heart of historic downtown Belmont. The careful renovation was designed to preserve the architectural character of the original building. The dining room seats 96, with room for another 16 at the bar.
A rooftop terrace with a bar and seating for 44 (plus room for standing and mingling) offers gorgeous views of the city.
Wagner Murray Architects served as project architect, and Andy Mercer, owner of Finial Construction was the general contractor. Kate McIntyre designed the interior.
For a meal on the go, Nellie’s Southern Kitchen also includes Nellie’s Pick Me Up, which will open June 20. Nellie’s Pick Me Up is an attached fast-casual concept, featuring sweet and savory hot biscuits sandwiches available for breakfast and lunch, coffee, pastries, snacks and ready to eat meals.