Hoptown native opens soul food restaurant | Food
Christian County native Kathy Mohon Williams always missed her curfew as a teenager.
The Hopkinsville High School graduate said that when she was late on weekends, her parents punished her by keeping her home.
“Dad punished me – every Saturday I was punished when I came home,” she said. “I cooked for him all week just so I wouldn’t be punished. He would let me in on Friday and Saturday nights, and he would punish me again.”
More than 30 years later, Williams shares her love of food and cooking with her hometown at her new restaurant, the Grounded Buffet, aptly named for her teenage antics.
“I worked in the restaurant business from the time I left home until about 20 years ago,” she said. “We waited for the perfect opportunity (to open our restaurant). My kids must have been a bit older.”
Now an Alabama resident, Williams recently returned to Hoptown for her 30-year class reunion and discussed the possibility of a restaurant with her Grounded Buffet general manager and best friend Donna Sharber and friend Dana Hamilton.
Hamilton found an opening at the former Homestead restaurant at 627 North Drive.
“When we walked into this log cabin restaurant, we knew this was our home,” Williams said. “This restaurant was an icon. I pray we live up to (that reputation).”
The doors of the Grounded Buffet opened on November 1st. The menu features what many would call “home cooking” or “soul food,” including fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and mac and cheese.
“Not everything comes from a box — it’s not from a can,” Williams said. “We do everything by hand as best we can. The only thing that comes out of a box is a noodle, and we have a lady in the kitchen who can make homemade noodles.”
Williams said the homemade meals are all based on recipes from her family as well as other members of her staff.
“Some of these recipes have been passed down for five generations,” she said. “Real cooks can’t follow a recipe, but we have a base for everything.”
Among its best hits with customers are chicken and dumplings.
“We have to have chicken and dumplings because it was one of my dad’s favorite foods and it’s one of mine,” Williams said.
She noted that hot sea bass will always feature beans — from white to brown to green and all varieties in between.
For dessert, cobblers will be a hot bar staple, Williams said. Flavors will include peach and cherry.
“From the time the blackberry cobbler was put in there, I think it was maybe 10 minutes,” she said.
Customers can also have their pie à la mode.
“The ice cream maker – everyone’s crazy about the ice cream maker,” she said.
In addition to the hot bar, guests can create their own appetizer or main course at the salad bar. The salad bar offers fresh iceberg lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, onions, cheese, black olives, cucumber, cottage cheese, eggs and more.
“People come in for takeout salads all the time,” she said.
Since opening, Williams said she had had growing pains with the heating and cooling unit and stove failing in the first week. She said the customers and restaurant staff have been friendly.
“I have the most amazing staff,” she said. “It’s been a success to come and set up the comfort food, the soul food, the good country cooking…with these staff who work so well together.”
Grounded Buffet hours are 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Friday night is catfish night and service starts at 4 p.m.
“You have to arrive around 3:30 p.m. or someone will steal the clamps,” laughed Williams.
A buffet breakfast is served from 7:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Friday through Sunday, with a menu of cookies, bacon, sausage, gravy, oatmeal, oatmeal, French toast sticks, eggs, and pancakes.
For those looking for a hot meal on Thanksgiving Day, Grounded Buffet will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
The cost of the whole buffet is free for children from 0 to 5 years old; $7.50 for 6 to 12 year olds; $12.50 for ages 13 to 60; $10.50 for ages 61 to 79 and $7.50 for ages 80 and over. Active duty military and first responders can eat for $10.50 with valid ID. The price of the buffet includes a drink.
Grounded Buffet also offers a meat and three lunchtime takeout option for $8.50, including a drink. For those who only want to eat salad bar food, the cost is $7.50.
For more information about Grounded Buffet, call 270-632-1034 or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.
“You just have to try,” Williams said. “There’s a difference between going from a box to a pan and where you know they put love into that food.”
Contact Michele Vowell at 270-887-3242 or [email protected]