by: Camila Fernandez and Aleah Hordges

Posted: Jun 7, 2022 / 08:15 AM EST / Updated: Jun 7, 2022 / 08:40 PM EST

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — “I want the community to know and Indianapolis to know that we’re not going home,” said Isaac Wilson, a co-owner of Kountry Kitchen.

“We’re going big.”

The Kountry Kitchen on Tuesday celebrated coming back with a groundbreaking at its original location at 19th Street and College Avenue. Community leaders joined the fun.

A fire destroyed the longtime restaurant in January 2020, but not the spirit of the owners. Cynthia Wright-Wilson and her husband, Isaac, say they found support from the community to bring the soul food restaurant back to life.

Wright-Wilson said Tuesday, “We can’t reiterate how much we needed the community to survive although it was tough for us,” the co-owner of Kountry Kitchen, Cynthia Wright-Wilson, said. “Without the community, we wouldn’t have ever made it.”

The two-story restaurant, once completed in February or March, will have additional space for special area plus a rooftop outdoor space.

“It’s a vision that really God brought to us, you know, a few years ago, even prior to the fire, to open an event center, and the vision is coming true,” Wright-Wilson said.

Before the fire, the restaurant had caught the attention of late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon, Barack Obama when he ran for president, the comedian and Indianapolis native Mike Epps, and others.

Epps made an appearance at the groundbreaking. “I was one of the original customers 30 years ago and I wanted to make sure that I was still here to let the people know if you come to Indianapolis, make sure you stop at Kountry Kitchen to get some real Southern cuisine.”

Bettye Johnson, an Indianapolis resident, also was the groundbreaking. She called the Kountry Kitchen “more than a restaurant!

“It’s like a new family, addition, you know, you meet some of everybody.”

Another loyal customer, Patzetta Trice, said of the restaurant, “It represents how we communicate, how we solve problems, how we connect, and, more importantly, how we love one another as we break bread together.”

Kountry Kitchen has been operating at a temporary location inside the Ruckus Building, 1417 Commerce Ave., just off Massachusetts Avenue.

The Kountry Kitchen obtained a $400,000 grant from the Indianapolis Housing Agency’s Insight Development Corp. for the project. Veteran and minority-owned Bondry Consulting of Carmel is a financial adviser for the rebuild, and Cambridge Capital Management Corp. of Indianapolis and Evansville-based Old National Bank are assisting with financing solutions. Odle McGuire Shook architects in Indianapolis and SCS Construction Services in Greenwood are project partners.