Finding quick success

Michelle Wulfson | The ItemKuntry Creole Kitchen owner Tamika Marshall has been working on her restaurant’s new location in the old Draft Bar located on Sam Houston Avenue in Huntsville. Formerly operating as a to-go only business near the intersection of Sycamore Avenue and 11th Street, Marshall looks forward to welcoming students and locals to her new dine-in restaurant serving creole southern comfort foods.

Opening just seven months ago in a small building near the intersection of 11th Street and Sycamore Avenue, Kuntry Creole Kitchen has found quick success serving up their signature creole and southern comfort foods.

The small, but booming business is now taking a leap of faith and is expanding to take over a prime location on Sam Houston Avenue.

“We were fortunate, because at the time it was during the pandemic, we didn’t know how things would happen, what would actually take place with us starting a new business in the middle of a pandemic like that,” Kuntry Creole Kitchen owner Tamika Marshall said.

Cooking is generational for Marshall’s family, serving as the thread that binds her with her mother and grandmother who taught her how to create the family’s creole and southern comfort meals.

Every weekend and event in Marshall’s mind brings back memories of sharing food with the ones she loves, sparking her passion and love for home cooked meals and its ability to bring people together. With the occasional help from her family of chefs, Marshall looks forward to sharing her family’s shrimp and crawfish étouffée, gumbo, shrimp creole, boudin and sauce piquante with the community.

“That’s some things that you just don’t get from around this area and you have to literally be in Louisiana to eat that kind of food, so that’s something that we’re bringing to the table,” Marshall said.

As a Huntsville local, Marshall notes that the tight-knit community’s support ensured her quick success. Opening just as dining rooms were set to close indefinitely, Kuntry Creole Kitchen was coincidentally prepared as their original plan was to operate as a to-go only business. The business’ lunch hours carried the major rush, often leading to being sold out by 3 or 4 p.m. nearly every day.

“Within the first two months, I think is when we knew that we were going to outgrow the place. Things had just taken off really fast and it was just unexpected,” Marshall said.

However, endless requests from their customers for a dine-in experience is what made them realize they needed to open their doors to the public. Now, Kuntry Creole Kitchen is preparing to open their first dine-in location in the old Draft Bar location on Sam Houston Avenue.

“The owner was very willing to help us get started, he did what most guys probably would have never done,” Marshall said. “We were excited about being able to transition to this location and being across from the college, we kind of think that we hit the gold button when we landed over here.”

Country Creole Kitchen will host a medley of entertainment events appealing to both the local community and students at Sam Houston State University. Marshall will be reviving her family’s famous Zydeco entertainment as a nod to the community that has followed their past annual Zydeco events every Valentine’s. Country western and rock and roll bands will also be added to the live entertainment rotation hosted once a month on the restaurant’s deck.

Kuntry Creole Kitchen will be located at 2002 Sam Houston Avenue, however, it does not have an official opening date set as they are still waiting on approval for their TABC license. Updates will be made available on their Facebook page.