Kelsey and Kim's Coming to Kentucky and Pacific Avenues

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.

By Turiya S. A. Raheem
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 15 | Posted Aug. 7, 2012

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Kim and Kelsey Jackson

For this year's Restaurant Week (back in March), I decided to visit a little known jewel in Atlantic City’s uptown section, Kelsey and Kim’s, whicht has only been at its Melrose Avenue location for two years.  

The original take-out place is still in Galloway and within the next few months, 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.

Spending time with this husband and wife team was humorous and inspiring. As I observed the playful interaction between the two of them, I could tell why they’ve been successful in a difficult niche, the restaurant business. 

Kim, born and raised in Atlantic City, has a business background and handles that side of everything while Kelsey — whose real name is Kesley — has a passion for food and people enjoying it.

He told me the funniest story about how his name is really “Kesley,” but throughout his life, teachers would switch the s and the l and call him “Kelsey” until it finally stuck. From there, I learned the sad story of how he and his mother relocated to A.C. from North Philly after his older brother was shot.  

His father moved to Florida with his other brothers and within a few years, young Kesley lost his mother to cancer. His father returned to the area while he was in high school and insisted that he find a summer job to buy his own school clothes. 

Los Amigos Mexican Restaurant hired him as a dishwasher, a job he hated, and he quickly worked his way up to the nacho bar and other specialties. Obviously, this young man was driven.

After high school, his father helped him get work at Tropicana, but he was unwittingly laid off only to find himself interviewing at Trump Marina, where he told the hiring person that he was “a fast learner and a hard worker.” He was hired on the spot and stayed for 17 years, leaving with lots of accolades, well-wishers and a great party, something Kelsey still loves.

Private parties, barbecues and food vending are how Kelsey and Kim got started while they both worked full-time jobs and raised four children, two sons and two daughters. Those were much more difficult years, Kim told me, especially after their youngest son was diagnosed with Leukemia.  He’s doing well now at North Carolina A&T as are the other children. 

They grew up in the business, but three have moved on to pursue other careers. This reminded me so much of growing up in my own family’s restaurant business: everyone pulling together, the long hours, the non-stop hustle and bustle of getting each family member’s needs and interests met while establishing a business. I had to ask them how they balanced it all.

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Comments 1 - 15 of 15
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1. AC Flyguy said... on Aug 8, 2012 at 10:57AM

“I'm sure a Southern Touch is going to be MUCH better than the building's former tenant Redding's.”

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2. Henrietta Wallace Shelton said... on Aug 8, 2012 at 11:55AM

“I wish them success. If they continue to serve excellent food and have good services with a good staff then they should do well. They have my support. I enjoy eating at the Atlantic City location, my favorite meal is the liver & onions. Oh yes do not forget to try their chicken you will enjoy. Congratulation”

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3. dianne washington said... on Aug 8, 2012 at 05:32PM

“Nice article! Wishing them the best in success. Hope they are well supported in AC. Will be sure to visit Kelsey & KIm's the next time I'm in town!”

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4. Rick Brandon said... on Aug 9, 2012 at 07:02AM

“I'm sure their new location will be a success, their food and service is excellent.
"Being from the south, I know good soul food!"Also enjoy their Jazz venue! Congrats Kelsey & Kim!!”

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5. Eddie Morgan said... on Aug 13, 2012 at 01:17AM

“I'm so excited for them. Kelsy n Kim will step up their game in such a large dining room. I have no doubt they can. Really looking forward to entertaining folks there. We will perform Sat. AUG 18th @ the uptown spot. 6:30-10:30. Stop by and share an evening with The Eddie Morgan Trio.”

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6. karen b. said... on Aug 17, 2012 at 10:01AM

“Congratulations to Kim & Kelsey (kesley!) On their success in a difficult business even during tough economic times. They must be doing a lot of thing well. Continued success to them. Thank you Ms. Raheem for another great article about the other AC.”

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7. Anonymous said... on Sep 5, 2012 at 05:01PM




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8. Dennis Cogan said... on Sep 22, 2012 at 09:19AM

“Great place with wonderful food and terrific hosts”

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9. Jackie millet said... on Feb 22, 2013 at 05:15PM

“Ate there this morning for breakfast food was escalante and server great place was recommended by friends and will tell more friends to eat there when in atlantic city.”

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10. Robin and mansurabdulmuizz said... on Mar 9, 2013 at 10:57AM

“The first time we went we were in awe of all the food that we saw on other peoples plate. My wife never had catfish so she ordered the catfish macaroni and cheese candied yams cabbage. I ordered meatloaf cabbage and the candied yams, believe me when I tell you the food was just crazy delicious the staff was so hospitable . We are from Philly , we want to eat a real dinner we head straight to Kim an Kelsey . Mr. Kelsey and miss Kim please keep this fabulous dinning experience going. Today is Saturday our children are away at their grandparents. See you this afternoon. Oh by the way save my wife some catfish.”

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11. Roni Mayes said... on Mar 20, 2013 at 08:57PM

“I love Kelsey and Kim's. Every time I am in AC I go there to eat. My husband just visited the new place on Pacific. We love K & K! Great food just”

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12. Louise Rountree said... on Aug 19, 2013 at 11:47AM

My friends and myself have dinned several times. We were very please with the food and service. I am so glad that your additional location will be in Atlantic City's historical black area Kentucky Ave. So many famous Black entertainers and great eateries was location on that strip.
So you guys are just taking your spot among the great!!!

We will be coming down to celebrate four birthdays on August 28th-August 31, 2013. Must have some of that 'Red Velvet Cake'... God Bless your continued success.”

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13. eva said... on Dec 28, 2013 at 12:08AM

“Ok so I ve been coming to atlantic city for about 5 years and never heard about this place until today. I walked past it and was curious. My boyfriend and I went in for dinner and it was absolutely refreshing. The dinner menu on Saturday night is awesome...keep in mind the cheapest price for an entrée is about $20....but it is so worth it. The southern fried chicken and waffles, rice pilaf, MAC AND CHEESE, ribs, and collard greens were all so great that we vowed to go back every time we visit AC. Oh yeah the fish tacos as an appetizer was the best I ve ever had. Spicy but not too much with their great taco sauce. The drinks are also great there....The mojito and the Kelsey punch are strongly recommended. We met the chef and Baker and couldn t help but praise them. This place is by far one of the best Atlantic City has to offer. Every one needs to dine here at least once....With a friendly staff, amazing chef, and live band on certain days, you can t ask for more.

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14. Lesley Bettis said... on Feb 10, 2014 at 05:17PM

“Kim ans I have been best friends for 35 years. I've know Kelsey since I was a teenager and was the maid of honor at their wedding. I watched over the years how they have grown as a couple and started to turn their dreams to reality. I, so proud of them and all they have accomplished. They persevered through the odds.. And are definitely a dynamic duo. May God continue to bless my dear friends. Kelsey's supper club is a much needed attraction in Atlantic City. Kim and Kelsey are doing great things.”

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15. Lesley Bettis said... on Feb 10, 2014 at 05:20PM

“Nobody makes Greens like Kelsey. Whenever I'm there.. I must have his greens and Mac and cheese. I'm also a big fan of his ribs and crab cakes. Yum!!!”


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