As far back as Will can remember, corner markets have been a part of his fabric. Countless days of his childhood were spent roaming the city streets of St. Louis, when free-range parenting was not a crime, with regular stops at the many options in his neighborhood—usually for penny candy.
Eventually, as his sensibilities evolved, these gave way to dicey bodegas in DC’s Adams Morgan and Capitol Hill neighborhoods and finally a gourmet haven in Chevy Chase that graduated him to bonafide food-lover status, Broad Branch Market. These days, just around the bend of his road is a bend that begets another. Convenience means a short drive into town, but until recently he hadn't found a neighborhood market in Charlottesville to fill that void.
P+K has kept an eager eye on Keevil & Keevil Grocery and Kitchen since its soft launch in August. With K&K's kickoff, a few months earlier than originally planned, came a glistening ripple of press. Mostly (and justifiably,) the coverage seemed predicated upon the good name Chef Harrison and Jennifer Keevil had already built for themselves in the Charlottesville food community. It’s hard not to tune in unless you live under a rock—Harrison endearingly wears his passion on his sleeve and lobbies regularly for the local food and farm industry on the social channels.
A few weeks after K&K opened, we dropped in and found that while the sandwiches were legit, the concept was a skeleton still being fleshed out. We held off on voicing our thoughts and rooted quietly on the sidelines for them to grow into their vision. The young days of any small business rarely indicate what it will ultimately be, and if you’re spread thin running another business in tandem, just imagine the challenges that abound. When the Keevils rolled out K&K, they were running Brookville Restaurant on the Downtown Mall, burning the candle at both ends. After 6 years, they ended the restaurant’s run last December so they could direct all attention to their new passion play.
Geographically, this modest barn-red market perches at the corner of Avon Street and Hinton Avenue, the gateway to Charlottesville’s hip Belmont Neighborhood. At first glance, we could see how one might expect little from a place this size, but don’t let the small scale fool you. K&K covers the whole spectrum of culinary desires with convenience and serious quality—binge-worthy breakfast options, a deep lunch menu of sandwiches, a well-curated collection of gourmet pantry items, a thoughtful roster of beer and wine, and now (drumroll) take-out dinners made from scratch with local ingredients. Oh, don’t forget all the Albemarle Baking Company pastries and Arley Cakes you could dream up.
Best of all, K&K is set to serve as a sort of food lab for the couple, a flexible space where they plan to experiment with concepts like popup collaborations with local chefs and food/wine pairings soon—and ‘the ideal context to take chances’. We’ll be tuning in for that kind of action.
Recs + Rants
The calling card. Let’s cut right to it - Harrison’s biscuits are the headliner. It’s no surprise they grace the cover of the latest Our Local Commons. They are so sinfully good, you’ll begin to wonder when you last hit the confessional booth. Rock these for your breakfast sandwich and you will be so pleasantly full, you could (should?) skip lunch that day.
There will be guilt. If you’re a health conscious mofo—as many are now when new year’s resolutions abound —leave room for exercise before/after you feast at K&K. The sandwich-heavy menu lacks in innocence. But, life is too short to neglect those biscuits, so just plan accordingly!
Put your Duke's up. Skim the menu and you’ll quickly diagnose a Duke's Mayonnaise fan hood here. The classic Southern condiment graces several sandwiches. We get it—mayo is a love-it or hate-it ingredient—so read the fine print and order carefully.
Take(out) comfort. Some days you have to kick ambition to the curb. Maybe you had a brutal day at work, shudder at the thought of cooking and cleaning but don’t want to venture out. The creative takeout dinner menu at K&K is that big warm hug you need, and it’s just a few clicks and keystrokes away on their website. The menu, jammed with locally sourced ingredients, rotates weekly and offers healthy gluten-free and vegetarian options some evenings. So far, our whole family has dug into the roast pork loin, grits, and collard greens and plan to try others.
Local love. K&K has a deep passion for the work of local farmers and artisans, as its menu and shelves will proudly attest. It’s practically their religion. And while this sometimes means paying more for the fare, it feels good to support a local business that champions local sweat, blood and tears.
Early one recent Saturday morning, Charlottesville’s first legitimate snow day, Will heeded the siren call of Harrison’s Instagram post and navigated the sketchy roads to K&K to get his hands on those biscuits. When he walked in he felt so safely sheltered from the storm - the light and warmth of the place being at once nothing and everything, bringing to mind Ernest Hemingway’s 'A Clean Well-Lighted Place,' in which the old man just needs a safe place to drink brandy alone to fend off feeling alone. On subsequent visits, K&K has also conjured the communal vibes of old school barber shops, where sharp banter spawns a magnetic desire to stick around and have a long chat with that sandwich you ordered. While Harrison worked the griddle, Will asked about life after Brookville.
“We’re so excited to focus and evolve our vision here at Keevil & Keevil. Brookville was a good run, but it was time to move on. At some point, once restaurants find that formula, they can also feel eventually confined by it. My creative energy is back to peak levels now.”
In a day when big box chain grocers are hyped, the Keevils are channeling the dying art of the local market—a move and spirit we at P+K celebrate.