Pleasantville favorite Kelsy & Kim's brings its take on southern cuisine to Atlantic City
Atlantic City’s northeastern most neighborhood — known locally as the Inlet — has acted as a sort of microcosm for the entire region over the course of the last half-century.
Originally one of Absecon Island’s most desirable locales, the area offered homes to many relocated residents of Hebrew descent fleeing the horrors of Europe before, during and after the Holocaust.
As the town continued a long, slow descent into nonexistence prior to the arrival of the casino industry, the Inlet pretty much did the same. Becoming known more for the drug trade and its associated violence, this was not an area ventured into without a degree of trepidation.
As part of the rising tide of economic prosperity generated over the last 20 years, the Inlet has begun a gradual return to its coveted prior status.
Several major construction initiatives created affordable middle-class housing while at the same time removing blighted, intimidating remnants of the past.
None of this was lost on local entrepreneurs Kelsey and Kim Jackson. The couple, owner/operators of Pleasantville’s Kelsey and Kim’s Southern Cuisine for the last 16 years, actually attempted to obtain their new property — at 201 Melrose Ave., in Atlantic City — several years ago, but were unsuccessful.
We visited for an interview on the hottest morning in the last decade. By 11am temperatures had already swollen to near triple digits.
None of that stopped their walk-up clientele — a diverse mix of locals and visitors — from streaming in the doors for late breakfasts or early lunches.
The place is bright and lively, with a dining space shaded in comforting dark yellow and orange tones.
A prophetic sign hangs near the entrance to the kitchen door reading: “Faith, Family, Friends.”
One immediately is struck by the realization that this is a true, family-run American business.
Kelsey, the chef, comes with his own culinary legacy: a father employed for most of his life as a professional line cook.
Kim, with a background including work as a business agent for a local union, seems equally suited for her role in the enterprise.
Two of their four children, Kareema, 24, and Kelsey Jr., 20, work alongside. Because we know you’re wondering, the answer is yes. Their remaining two offspring, KayShawn, 18, and Klassic, 23, continue the alliterative family tradition.
Offering up the entertaining tale of their journey as restaurateurs, Kelsey states, “How this mess all started [is] we went to Disney.” While on holiday in Orlando, he spotted a smoker and got an idea.
The next thing Kim knew they were hauling their own similar device up I-95 in the back of a minivan.
Starting small, the couple began with catering jobs, including five memorable years working Miss America fetes. Local BBQ festivals were the natural next step, culminating with winning first place in pulled pork and third place in chicken at Ocean City’s King of the Grill events.
Next came the opportunity to obtain a spot on North Main Street in Pleasantville during the early 1990s.
The small restaurant quickly built a valuable cadre of local devotees.
Kelsey and Kim’s will expand to include a third location at the corner of Kentucky and Pacific avenues called A.C.’s Southern Touch.
The food varies from Cajun po’ boys and ice cream to American-Thai and authentic Atlantic City grub. Many of the items for sale include recycled, organic and fair-trade products.
Kelsey and Kim's offers classic Southern soul food with a twist, including fried chicken and waffles. Open daily 7am-10pm; BYOB/cash only. Click here for a review of Kelsey and Kim's....
Kelsey and Kim's offers classic Southern style Soul Food with a twist. Hours: daily 11am-10pm. Specials: Everyday 10 pcs Fried chicken Full Slab of Pork Ribs 3 Large Sides $45.99 Monday Hot Wings 1/2 Slab Pork Ribs 1/2 BBQ Chicken 2 Large sides $29.99 Tuesday 15 pcs Fried Chicken 2 Large Sides $24.99 Wednesday 20 Fried Wings 2 Large Sides Click here for a review of Kelsey and Kim's....
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