As a pillar of the Raleigh community, Carroll’s Kitchen has been empowering women and feeding the masses for close to four years.

Carroll’s Kitchen, created and founded by Vicky Ismail and Jim Freeze, is dedicated to helping women. Ismail states, “It’s a social enterprise restaurant and non-profit that helps women recover from crises.” 

The idea for Carroll’s Kitchen was created in the hopes of aiding marginalized people in the Raleigh area. “There was a need in the city,” said Ismail. “My background was in hospitality and everyone has worked in a restaurant at some point in their life, so it seemed like the natural choice. But, most importantly, work brings dignity and purpose.”

The non-profit provides stable employment and a safe space for women to gain economic independence through their Restorative Employment Model (REM). The REM consists of two programs. The Stability Program focuses on arming women with the resources and skills to establish and maintain long-term social stability. The Culinary Program is goal-based and trains individuals in production and leadership. At this time, the REM has resulted in the improvement of 26 women’s lives. Whether it is moving on to other employment or staying with Carroll’s Kitchen, 100% of graduates now work full-time. ( We do not track beyond two years so since 2018 no recidivism and women are employed.) 

Carroll’s Kitchen is a service that is imperative for the women they help, so when the pandemic hit, they opened as soon as they could, only staying closed for two weeks. “It was important for our women not to feel they would have to take a step back, not being in the community or around other people. Work is a big part of their life, so we gathered and reorganized as quickly as possible,” said Ismail. “Even though the customers weren’t there, the girls continued to grow and learn.” 

Unfortunately, Carroll’s Kitchen was also impacted by the recent city-wide destruction. But, once again, and through the help of community volunteers, the non-profit was able to get back on their feet in a matter of days. “It was crushing because of who Carroll’s Kitchen is and what it represents in the community,” said Ismail. “But thankfully, places like Vintage Church and many in the community joined in , and we were able to open our doors again.”

Carroll’s Kitchen has endured many setbacks in the last few months, but its place in the Raleigh community and their dedication to continue their mission has enabled their speedy recovery. “The motivation wasn’t for the business,” said Ismail. “The motivation was to keep the mission going, to keep the story being told, and to keep the women engaged. 

Show your support and head down to Carroll’s Kitchen to enjoy some delicious food!