After helping run one of the bigger restaurant groups in town, Mike Lindsey and Kimberly Love-Lindsey are stepping out on their own.
The married couple is preparing to open Lillie Pearl at 416 E. Grace St. downtown, in the space most recently home to the short-lived Pink Flamingo taqueria. Before that it housed the Pasture restaurant.
For the last four years Lindsey has been the executive chef at EAT Restaurant Partners, while Love-Lindsey has served as director of operations for the group.
“This was a great opportunity for me to spread my wings and get my own thing going,” Lindsey said. “Hopefully, we can keep the magic going with what we’re doing at Lillie Pearl. It’s something I feel good and passionate about.”
Lillie Pearl is leasing the 4,000-square-foot space that was left vacant by Pink Flamingo’s closure this summer. Prior to that, Pasture operated in the building for 8 years.
Lillie Pearl is named for Lindsey’s grandmother, and he said he wants the new venture to capture the energy of its namesake’s home.
“We want the restaurant to have that feeling of, ‘Oh, we’re going to grandma’s house,’ but it’s the cool grandma,” Lindsey said. “Where you can have great food, be loud, laugh and celebrate.”
Lillie Pearl’s menu will feature New American fare with plenty of West African influence.
“A dish I really hope is a staple for us and I’m excited to do is the Obe Ata lamb shank with jollof rice,” Lindsey said. “It’s a traditional West African dish, and it pays homage to what the true, core Black American influence on the South is. I want to be able to celebrate that.”
Lindsey added Lillie Pearl will have a full bar, and be open for lunch and brunch on Sundays.
“I’ve been in the business a long time and I can tell you what helps you make money is lunch,” Lindsey said, laughing.
The space needs minimal work, Lindsey said, and they hope to have Lillie Pearl open in November. Nathan Hughes of Sperity Real Estate Ventures represented Lillie Pearl in lease negotiations. Thalhimer’s Reilly Marchant represented the landlord.
Lindsey said it’s bittersweet for he and Kimberly to be leaving EAT after a good run.
“I’ve had a great experience at EAT. I helped create an incredible avenue of restaurants with them,” he said. “It’s not sad, but it’s like when you go off to college and you leave home. You don’t really want to leave your friends but you’re super excited to go and do your own thing. It’s kind of that feeling.”