PROVIDENCE — When the going gets tough, Julia Broome knows people turn to comfort food. There’s no shortage of dishes she could whip up. It’s more about picking which of the recipes that had been ingrained in her growing up that make the choices endless: Shrimp po’boy. Jambalaya. Grits. Collard greens.
And her favorite — fried green tomatoes.
“Food is just our love language,” said Broome, reflecting on her mother, who was born in Norfolk, Va., and her great-grandmother, who grew up in South Carolina.
And now Broome is bringing her family’s soul-satisfying Southern dishes to downtown Providence in the opening of her first restaurant, Kin Southern Table + Bar. The space, located at 71 Washington St. in the Biltmore Garage, previously housed Red Fin Crudo + Kitchen, which shuttered last summer.
Kin will have approximately 50 seats inside with a choice of counter-height spots at the bar and traditional café seating in the rear. Bistro tables and up to eight seats will be available for outdoor dining.
The menu will pay homage to her ancestors with Southern dishes such as shrimp po’boys, fried chicken sandwiches, fried catfish, chicken and waffles, chocolate beignets, and well-done baked mac ‘n cheese.
“This is the food I grew up on,” said Broome, who is originally from South Providence. “It’s comfort food.”
And “comfort” is underscored in the name, Kin. Broome said she wants to create an inclusive restaurant environment in downtown Providence where people can come together, even when there’s so much unrest.
“I want customers to feel welcome — like they’re part of our family,” Broome said. “Here’s a place where people can come, gather together, and have a meal.”
Kin, she said, will also be a space where Black culture can be seen and be celebrated. Funky soul, old-school hip hop, reggae, and Afro-beat artists will be on the dinner playlists. Her bar program will be driven by specialty cocktails. While most Southern eateries prominently display whiskey and bourbon on their drinks menus, Broome is opting for rum, taking a spin on the classics such as mojitos, rum punch, and perhaps one with a “little bit of Kool-Aid.”
Broome brings nearly a decade’s worth of experience in the hospitality industry. After graduating from Boston University and moving back to Rhode Island, Broome helped open the Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, Mass. Later on, she was recruited by a global events company to help plan trade shows, but was laid off in the beginning of the pandemic. In mid-quarantine, Broome started drafting a business plan for what would become Kin. After partnering with the University of Rhode Island’s Small Business Development Center, she signed a lease for the corner storefront with Cornish Associates.
“Full disclaimer, I’m terrified,” said Broome of opening a new restaurant during the pandemic.
But when attending college in Boston, Broome said she often had to leave campus and search to find dishes that originated from the South. And while Providence has a few notable places, such as Bucktown and The Slow Rhode on Federal Hill, Broome said she wants Kin to be “the go-to place” for locals.
“Every major city has a place with just good Southern cooking,” said Broome. “I want Kin to be that place to Providence.”