Old School

Laura Petrides Wall

K&W celebrates 50 years at Cameron Village

by Catherine Currin

In 1949, Cameron Village was the first shopping center built between Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, and today it remains a Raleigh standby. One of its longest tenants is K&W cafeteria, which opened its Cameron Village doors in 1968, 50 years ago. But the casual buffet-style Southern restaurant isn’t making too much fuss about the five decade milestone; that’s part of its allure: no frills. K&W originally opened in the building adjacent to its current location, where there is today Medlin Davis and Village Deli. In 1992, the cafeteria took over the former Village Theater spot. Besides the expansion, not much else has changed.

Many of the employees have worked for the Winston-Salem based company for decades. Cook Rubin Jones first worked at the North Hills location, moving to Cameron Village in the ’90s. All total, he’s been in Raleigh K&W kitchens for 28 years. “I’ve worked here for so long, it’s my family.”

Likewise, former Raleigh general manager Rankin Brown remembers “when I was a student at N.C. State in the ’70s, my friends and I would walk to Cameron Village to eat at K&W.” He has spent a collective 33 years working in different locations around the state.

Employees and customers also find comfort in the food. There’s a winding line out the door most Sundays about the time local churches let out, and trays filled with items from baked spaghetti or fried flounder to employee Jeannette Horton’s favorite, “San Francisco chicken,” a breaded chicken dish with rice and vegetables. In addition to the food, Horton says she loves seeing a familiar face in the regular diners, and kids who are “all grown up” returning with their parents or grandparents.

To many Raleighites, the place bears nostalgia, be it from the comfort food, the atmosphere, or the employee you’ve known forever.