Simple Sustenance

Courtney’s Kitchen offers meals like grandma may have made

By Chris Bavender
Photos by Stan Gurka

Remember the friend’s house you loved hanging out at as a kid? You know the one – snacks waiting after school, lots of laughter, and an atmosphere that made you feel right at home. It was that feeling siblings Carrie and Cass Courtney were after when they opened Courtney’s Kitchen in Noblesville in 2010.

“Our family was always the kitchen friends and family would gather to eat,” Carrie said. “We have always loved home-cooking and my brother loves doing it.”

Not to mention the restaurant business is in their blood. Their maternal grandfather (Englert) owned several businesses in Indianapolis their Grandma Englert cooked for. Their paternal Grandma Courtney owned a restaurant named Marie’s Kitchen when their dad was growing up.

“So we all get it honest, and we have plenty of homemade recipes to honor,” Carrie said. “In fact, that’s why Cass named the restaurant Courtney’s Kitchen, in reference and honor to Grandma Courtney.”

 

Family Affair

Courtney’s Kitchen first opened at Noblesville’s American Legion on the square downtown. The duo rented the kitchen and made sure people liked their cooking.

“It was an honored opportunity and also made Grandpa Courtney, a WWII vet, very proud,” Carrie said.

In May of 2011, Courtney’s Kitchen moved to its current location on Logan Street. Carrie, 40, handles front of house, book-work, baby holding, and some cooking; while Cass, 38, runs the kitchen, including ordering, deliveries, and repairs and - most importantly – is the main cook.

But make no mistake – Courtney’s Kitchen is a family affair. From their parents to cousins and friends – everyone lends a hand.

Our dad cameos as our breakfast cook often, which is why we only have breakfast on Saturday mornings, otherwise we are a lunch/dinner place. Our mother is our best employee and works in the kitchen with Cass three days a week,” Carrie said. “My uncle does the homemade biscuits and gravy on Saturday mornings, another uncle is our lunch delivery driver, and yet another uncle helps us with repairs. My aunt is the pie lady and if you haven’t had Aunt Annie’s homemade pies, you’re missing out!”

Another aunt and cousin help on the register, another cousin maintains the website, while another helped design the window decals and signage.

“And my youngest cousin just got his first job with us,” Carrie said. “We are blessed with our family, but one reason is because you have to keep family a priority.”

No TV’s

Stroll in for a meal and you’ll instantly be struck with a feeling of being at home. Artwork by local artists provides a “fun collection” of décor and art to sell, mixed in with nostalgic cookware and family values. The color scheme of the restaurant is based off one of the main paintings in the dining room by Fishers artist Matthew Ludden, a close friend of Cass’ and the family.

“We wanted you to feel like you were pulling up a chair at your mothers’ kitchens without formality, but with smiles,” Carrie said. “That’s why we have several different tables and chairs throughout the restaurant. Who knows, maybe one will actually remind you of yours!”

One thing you won’t find here, however – TV’s.

“I’m afraid in this fast-paced life filled with appointments and electronic screens, that slowing down, gathering around a table and finding eye contact and heart-filled fellowship with our loved ones is fading, and that’s really where we find the meaning of life,” Carrie said. 

A dog-friendly patio (some menu items are even named after furry family members) provides another place to gather to enjoy drinks or any number of delicious menu offerings.

Offerings the sign hanging on the front sums up nicely – Simple Sustenance.

“Where there may not be a lot of fancy ingredients, we make up with all your classic home-cooked meals just like your parents or grandparents may have made,” she said.

Offerings like Sugar Cream pie, a hand-breaded Hoosier Tenderloin, Grandma’s Chicken and Dumplings, Meatloaf with a Kick, Chicken Alfredo Pizza, and Penwell’s Pork Parmesan named after a friend and former employee.

“Of course, over the years, the menu has grown and grown, due to our own creativity as well as family/employee suggestions and customer requests,” Carrie said.

In addition to supporting local everywhere possible, Courtney’s Kitchen strives to be environmentally friendly.  

“We recycle and compost, and also believe our fortunate area still needs to be responsible, so we reduce food waste by catering our orders to each customer, even by asking if the pickle spear is wanted or not,” Carrie said.

Spend enough time at Courtney’s Kitchen, and you’ll become a part of the family.

“Family comes in all shapes and sizes of blood relatives, friends, and confidants. We couldn’t have followed this dream without an army of all of the above including our fellow families at the American Legion and loyal customers whose families have since become dear friends to us and the rest of the Courtney family, and that includes our dedicated staff as well.”