Independence Day – the one day a year when this nation of immigrants pays homage to our founding fathers by flocking to beaches; burger and beer in hand. Unfortunately, the three King brothers, owners of King’s Kitchen- known for serving Southport sustainable beachside fare - spent this July 4th battling to save their business.
Last summer, King’s Kitchen made their debut on the Southport shore, serving locally grown and sourced beach food. The menu features about five items and changes daily – items ranging from lobster rolls and quesadilla with a fennel and caper Russian remoulade, to ox hollow grass-fed burgers and short rib tacos. The brothers also offer an assortment of chips, and a variety of organic juices, including refreshing watermelon lemonade.
Signs reading “Save the Shack!” cover the cabin that once served as King’s Kitchen headquarters for all food preparation, cooking, and serving. This blue-gray building, located at 1505 Pequot Avenue in Fairfield, was built in 1946. It is both a “historic landmark” and “childhood memory”, according to Hunter King, one of the King’s brothers and partners.
Half kitchen half lifeguard shack steps from the sand; the building provided ample space and the ideal location to run a business. Sadly, super storm Sandy struck this past October, destroying the building’s foundation and causing the shack to float across the street.
The town of Fairfield has since moved the building back to its original location. However, they have not provided means to build a new foundation, and have declared the structure lacks qualifications to meet FEMA code of safety regulations. According to Hunter King, the brothers need roughly $35,000 in order to “restore the beach back to normal”.
This summer, with the shack out of commission, they have been serving food and drink from a small trailer. The trailer takes the brothers a combined four hours to set up and tear down, and uses solar panels for power. Because of its small size, food preparation occurs at The Red Hen’s kitchen, (the brothers’ other culinary endeavor, located at the Westport Inn).
For the sake of convenience, tradition, and legitimacy, the King family, although grateful for the trailer donated by a friend, will fight to regain their shack.
Originally, because of its condition, the town of Fairfield ordered Hunter King to remove the building by June 25th, 2013. Failure to do so would result in demolition and disposal by town officials.
Luckily, the King’s brothers have received an extension – July 25th - to raise the money for restorations needed to pass FEMA code.
Although folks of Fairfield and surrounding towns have already helped raise about $1,200, Hunter spent $450 to bid and win ownership of the building. With this ownership comes the ability to modify the shack and make it mobile, providing a loophole to the law and dismissing the need for a foundation. “A building this size can be in one location for less than 180 days without an anchor,” Hunter said. “My season is 99 days, so it could work.”
Nevertheless, the King’s Kitchen still lacks funds needed to perform modifications for FEMA safety.
On July 4th, Hunter, his brother Carter, and their contractor Eric slaved the day away, working to relocate the building to a truck. Curious beachgoers stopped by, asking questions and raising eyebrows at Hunter’s answers.
“We want to change the standard of food,” said Hunter. “People should be able to go to the beach and eat a healthy hot dog and hamburger. We want to set new standards and support local farms so we can be self-sufficient. We shouldn’t have to get our potatoes from Idaho, we can get perfectly good potatoes from local farms in Connecticut.”
If you’d like to donate or learn how to help the King’s Kitchen mission, visit http://gogetfunding.com/project/save-kings-kitchen-1.