When Chef Maya Lovelace was young, her grandma’s kitchen felt like church. With each visit to Mae Lovelace's home in Hickory, North Carolina, Maya would learn a thing or two: how to shape yeast rolls, how to fry summer squash in a cast iron skillet, how to make sweet tea.
Grandma Mae's lessons were intentional, methodical, and one-of-a-kind. They imbued Maya with valuable tools to feed her loved ones and earn a living.
After more than a decade of training with some of the best chefs in Charleston and Portland, Maya enlisted her partner Zach Lefler to build a tribute in her grandma's name--a little neighborhood pop-up called Mae. Nestled in a garage just off NE 42nd Ave, we have spent nearly three years serving up fried chicken, angel biscuits, stone-ground grits, sassafras sweet tea, and the best vegetables grown in Oregon.
Mae has earned local media attention from Portland Monthly, Willamette Week, The Portland Mercury and The Oregonian, plus national accolades on Eater(Young Gun 2016, Portland Chef of the Year 2016) and Zagat (30 Under 30 2017). Maya has been nominated for a James Beard Award twice (Rising Star Chef 2017 and 2018), and since its inception in early 2015, our pop-up has served more than 8,000 guests.
"When I think of what my grandma would’ve felt, seeing her food and her story honored in this way, I feel like my heart might explode with joy."
Now Maya and Zach want to bring their love of Southern cuisine to even more people. This summer, they'll open the doors to a brand new restaurant offering two distinct dining experiences:
Yonder will be a casual counter-service establishment, in meat-and-three tradition, serving up classic Southern fare on demand. Mae will continue serving intimate, overwhelming, family-style dinners in a cozy private dining room several nights a week.
With two separate dining rooms, two menus, and one big staff, this project is daunting for first-time restauranteurs. Support from friends, family, and community has always been essential to our success. We want to make sure our backers are involved in every step of this process, so we've put together a selection of brand new dinners, merchandise and ingredient packages just for you.
$100,000 Stretch Goal: OUR VERY FIRST COOKBOOK!
With a little less than 48 hours on the clock, we're throwing you a curve ball. IF WE REACH OUR STRETCH GOAL of $100K, we'll be sweetening the pot for our generous backers of $150 or more (starter kits, dinners, etc.) by creating our VERY FIRST COOKBOOK.
Some of y'all know how inspired we are by old school cookbooks produced by small local organizations in the south - those beautiful, plastic-comb-bound tomes from church groups and ladies' auxiliary clubs - featuring heirloom family recipes printed simply and without unnecessary embellishment. If we can reach our target, we'll be putting together our very own book in this classic style.
You can expect around ten recipes (unless we get carried away and add more), from our summer chow chow to our famous angel biscuits - each one accompanied by the story of its origin, bound into a neat little volume that we hope will live in your kitchen for years to come, or at least until we release a more comprehensive book one of these days!
Campaign-Exclusive Yonder Drumstick Enamel Pin
Designed by Meagan Geer and manufactured right here in Portland, these finger-licking enamel pins are a special thank you and a tip of the hat to everyone's favorite fowl. Pins ship in May 2018 to anywhere in the United States.
SHIPWRECK Party ft. Piña Coladas and Fried Chicken Sandwiches on 5/22 *SOLD OUT*
On May 22nd, we'll join forces with Eric Steven Nelson and his smash hit cocktail pop-up SHIPWRECK. We'll be serving up our FRIED CHICKEN SANDWICH, "The Intimidator", for the very first time. Eric will sling his beautiful tropical-inspired cocktails for your purchasing and imbibing pleasure.
Each ticket includes a big ol' sandwich (lard-fried, skin-on chicken thigh, pimento cheese, bacon jam, iceberg lettuce, bread and butter pickles on a big squishy bun) and two sides. We may even come up with a special surprise or two to slide onto your table.
Drinks not included, bit deliciously available! Your pledge admits one ($35) or two ($65). Scheduled for May 22nd in Portland.
Basket of Fresh Angel Biscuits *SOLD OUT*
When you come visit Yonder for the first time, show us your BISCUIT card and we'll get a hot basket of our famous angel biscuits ready for you! We'll send it to your table with zippy pimento cheese and bread & butter zucchini pickles. What could possibly go better with all the fried chicken you'll be enjoying? Available anytime after we open!
10-pc Holiday Bucket Jackpot *SOLD OUT*
This memorial day, you'll be a hero to your family and friends when you show up to the party with a 10-pc bucket of our famous three-fat fried chicken, two 16oz sides, and four biscuits! (SOLD>) Pickup on May 28th (<OUT) and by popular demand, (SOLD>) July 4th! (<OUT)
Cotton Tote Bag Screen-Printed with Mae's New Logo
The first line of merchandise we've ever produced--featuring Mae's brand new logo and designed just for our Kickstarter backers! Ships in May 2018, drumstick pin included, to anywhere in the United States.
Introducing... The Mae-At-Home Starter Kit
Southern ingredients are an important part of our food, and now you can bring these delicious goodies home to your own kitchen. Featuring the pickled ramp pimento cheese, whipped sorghum butter, stoneground white cornmeal, Benton's bacon, and Sea Island red peas you've come to love at Mae. Packaged inside a Mae tote bag, drumstick pin included.
Swing by the restaurant to say hello and pick yours up this May (local pickup only).
Yonder Housewarming Party *NEW*
Come join us for our grand opening! We'll welcome you with a drink and a tour of the space, and then sit you down for a generous family style dinner showcasing our new dishes--you'll eat the whole menu! Come get a first look at the new restaurant, and help us make it a home. Date TBA.
Vegetarian Dinner Featuring Fresh Produce from our Farmer Dan Sullivan
Just wait until you meet our farmer Dan Sullivan. Together we'll feature an exclusive vegetarian menu to thank our backers who aren't meat-inclined. Dan'll be there to personally answer questions about the ingredients and where they came from.
Date to be announced, but plan for late summer! We want everything on our menu to be perfectly ripe for the season. Each pledge admits two!
Winemaker Dinner with Andy Young, Proprietor of St. Reginald Parish on 4/26
Sit down for a ten-course dinner including beverage pairings with Andy Young, owner and proprietor of St. Reginald Parish. You'll be the first to try their new sparkling wine, Sparkle Motion!
The grapes for this 100% Pinot Noir (2015 vintage) come from a single vineyard, Sisu Vineyard in Yamhill-Carlton, and it spent six months in a barrel and two full years in the bottle before finding its way to our table.
Only 80 cases of Sparkle Motion were produced, so we're very proud to be offering a bottle to take home with each ticket to Andy's winemaker dinner, as an additional token of our gratitude. Ten courses, each with pairings, plus a bottle of bubbly to take home.
Dinner's scheduled for April 26th in Portland. Each pledge admits two!
Exclusive Recipe Tasting Dinner on May 1st
We're excited to give you a taste of what we've been working on, and our vision for Yonder and Mae. At our Recipe Testing Dinner on May 1st, we'll also be soliciting your feedback--your patronage built our little pop-up into what it is today, and we trust you.
Back us, and be one of the first to try...
- Crispy cornmeal gougeres with collard green cream & vinegar dust
- Catfish and green garlic hushpuppies with our pickled ramp ranch
- Salt rising toast with creamed ramps and morels
- Buttermilk brined & lard fried chicken with Western NC “dip” (see above!)
- Cornmeal fried HOT catfish
- Country ham braised lima beans and heirloom rice
- Comeback coleslaw
Old-school apple stack cake
These are BRAND NEW dishes we're hoping to serve from our new kitchen, and we want you to give us your feedback! We'll cook, you'll eat, and then we'll all have a nice little chat about what you liked, loved, or hated. Scheduled for May 1st in Portland, each pledge admits two!
First Dinner in the New Mae Dining Room
New menu, new digs, new sense of style. We're excited to fully realize our vision for Mae, with decor and ambiance perfectly suited to our intimate storytelling dinners.
This summer, you'll be the very first guests to dine in Mae's new home and enjoy tastes from our brand new cocktail menu, created by the lovely Kate Bolton. Will there be smothered pork chops? Salt-rising toast? Collard green gougeres? Apple butter stack cake?
You'll have to join us to find out. Each pledge admits two!
Our Wall of Fame: Recognizing Grandmas, Grannies, Meemaws and All the Other Amazing Women Who Make the World Go 'Round
Matriarchs provide their families with boundless love, support, and wisdom. Honor your granny, your mom, your super cool aunt--any woman who has made an impression on your life. Simply provide us with a framed photo, and we'll hang it on a special wall in Yonder for everyone to see and appreciate.
We have a feeling that Mae will be in excellent company. On display in June 2018.
Backing Us at $5,000 and Up?
Listen, we all know that's a lot of money.
So if you do us the extreme kindness of backing a new home for Mae + Yonder at that level, we're pulling out all the stops.
From private cooking lessons with friends, to a special Mae dinner in your very own dining room, we've come up with stellar rewards for our most generous backers. We're excited to spend a little time with you and thank you for helping us live our dream.
The Work Ahead of Us
We're starting this project with an empty concrete box. Over the next few months, we'll be adding walls, hanging sheetrock, laying tile, and painting our little hearts out.
Starting from the ground up is daunting, but we're excited to put work into every minute detail, building a new home worthy of our guests. We'll be handpicking furniture, hanging portraits, installing equipment and dreaming of the amazing meals we've yet to serve you.
We expect construction to take roughly four months, plus a bit more time to decorate and bring the space to life. Our team is currently aiming for a July opening, God willing and the creek don't rise.
Risks and challenges
A first-time restaurant build out is challenging in any environment. We're supremely confident because--together with your help--we're working in careful coordination with our incredible neighborhood.
We've been serving food on NE 42nd Ave for three years now, and our plan for the old Delphina's Bakery space was hand-selected by Our 42nd, a organization built to ensure that economic change benefits our neighbors in an inclusive way.
We want to built a supportive environment where young chefs can shape a career and neighbors can share a pitcher of sweet tea. Zach grew up just down the street, on NE 40th, and there's no place in the world we'd rather plant roots.
It's possible folks will get tired of fried chicken, but unlikely.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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