I was hooked the first time I went to Ladles in Kill Devil Hills and tasted their turkey chile. It’s just spicy enough to get your attention but not enough to kill the flavors of beans cooked to perfection and plenty of ground turkey. That bowl guaranteed a return visit.
When Laurie Harvin and Vicky Katona opened their doors in December of 2014, I remember remarking to a friend that it seemed like a dangerous, maybe even foolhardy strategy for an Outer Banks business.
OK, I must admit I was wrong and here’s why: The soups are created fresh everyday, sandwiches and salads are prepared when ordered and the prices are very reasonable. The result is tables filled with happy customers, occasional lines at the register and it’s become an instant new favorite place to meet for a delicious lunch or quick and nutritious dinner.
The fact that their newly opened restaurant has become a part of the Outer Banks social life is one unexpected surprise for the owners. “My most gratifying moments have been when I look out the window and see people who don’t know each other sitting, eating, talking and really enjoying themselves,” Vicky says. “ When they leave they have the beginnings of a new friendship, which is very gratifying.”
“It’s our community, it’s as if we’re all family, and it brings this wonderful feeling.” Laurie adds.
They seem an unlikely pair to open a restaurant. Other than a short stint in a fast food restaurant when Laurie was 16, neither of them had worked in food service. They were working in housekeeping at the Outer Banks Hospital and neither one of them felt this was their life’s calling.
Laurie was familiar with Ladles—a franchise business that started in Charleston, South Carolina—through her sister who lived in the city. They pulled resources, started looking for a location and a year later they were in business. “We started in January (2014), and it was a lot of work.” Vicky says.
Training in Charleston helped, but nothing could prepare them for what would happen when they opened their doors. “It was slow the first day,” Laurie says. “After that, it was lines all day long without stopping.”
Looking for ways to expand their reach, Laury and Vicky started offering catering, and according to Carolina Design’s employee, Julie Short, “They have awesome catering! We treated a few local businesses to lunch as a thank you and to extend best wishes for the New Year. Every company responded with positive reviews of their food and service.”
In the meantime they keep turning out great soups and sandwiches. The chicken noodle soup would probably cure any head cold; the she crab soup is rich and filled with crab; their sandwiches are a meal in themselves but with a serving of soup it seems to take soup and sandwich to a new level. The other day I had their white bean and ham soup— the soup of the day. I immediately started lobbying for it to be on the regular menu. It is a fun place to go to . . . a place where smiles seem to be all around. That comes, perhaps, from a pair of partners that followed a path to something that gives meaning to their lives. “It’s like you can have your dreams come true,” Vicky says. “I wouldn’t trade this for anything.”
Ladles Soups Outer Banks
1901 South Croatan Hwy
Kill Devil Hills, NC
Milepost 9 3/4 next to nags head hammocks