Redbird Cafe 2016-09-30 011
Local News

Redbird Cafe aims to bring ‘slow food’ approach to downtown Homewood

The former restaurant at 2057 Ridge Road is undergoing a metamorphosis. What will soon emerge is Redbird Cafe, the incarnation of one local woman’s dream. But it is a dream that owner Kim Nolen believes the community shares — for a fun, eclectic, local-sourced place to gather and eat.

  Kim Nolen stands in front of the future Redbird Cafe. 
  She and her family and currently renovating the space 
  on Ridge Road formerly occupied by Dragon Inn. 

  (Photo by Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)


The former restaurant at 2057 Ridge Road is undergoing a metamorphosis. What will soon emerge is Redbird Cafe, the incarnation of one local woman’s dream.

But it is a dream that owner Kim Nolen believes the community shares.

The project is summed up succinctly by the name of the cafe’s parent company, Local Folkus. Nolen describes the venture as one that is intensely local: a product of the community and for the community.

“The primary focus is local,” Nolen said. “We will use locally sourced food. The menu will be seasonal,” changing according to what foods are available at a given time.

She lists a number of specialties that have local sources, including pies, produce, bread and coffee. Meats will come from area farmers and preference will be given to those who use ethical, organic methods.

Although the food will be local, some of the dishes will have “global inspiration,” she said. 

“It’s not just meat and potatoes. It’ll be a little more fun,” she said.  

The name of the cafe refers to the state bird, the cardinal, commonly called “redbird” because of the bright coloring of the male of the species. 

Although the name sounds similar to iconic cafes, like the Bluebird in Nashville, and evokes a small-town feel, she  envisions something different for the atmosphere.

“I’m not sure it’s going to be a traditional cafe,” she said. “I think it probably will be a little more of a funky downtown atmosphere, a more of an eclectic feel.”

She’s aiming for something her core demographic would find comfortable and appealing. She has in mind people who like the farm-to-table approach, who might be fans of craft beers and local coffee shops. 

She’s thinking of people who are “most interested in where their food is coming from, knowing who’s produced it and that the food is generally healthy.”

Craft beers and wines will be offered, too. Nolen has applied for a beer/wine liquor license from the village. Trustees will consider the request at the meeting Tuesday.

Nolen has lived in the H-F community for more than three decades, and the cafe is the first step in a project she has been preparing for and pondering for a third of that time.
Her mission is motivated by another aspect of “local,” the desire to create the kind of places the community values.

“There are things people in this community want, and we have always gone elsewhere for them,” she said. “But we’re starting to build them here — for ourselves.”

She noted that the competition isn’t so much among local businesses as with business offerings elsewhere, and that local businesses will increase the chance of prosperity by working together. 

“We support one another,” she said. “If we collaborate with one another, then we build our own strong economy, our own strong community.”

Her first project under Local Folkus is a cafe because food is something that helps build community.

“To me, food is a connector,” she said. “It’s always been central to our social interactions.”

She said the cafe’s approach would be influenced by the “slow food” movement. 

“If we can learn to slow down a little bit and enjoy the experience, it will be a full experience, not just a grab and go.”

The cafe will start with breakfast and lunch menus to get the operation going. The idea is to attract commuters and downtown shoppers first. Later, she plans to add dinners, with a strong focus on the arts, including music, film and visual arts.

The whole project will be one that grows and evolves, she said. 

“Stay tuned. There will be more,” she said. “I think there are a lot of fun things attached to this to come. Initially there may be some growing pains that everybody goes through, but we hope everybody can be patient with us. Ultimately the goal is to provide something that is wanted and enjoyed.”


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