Connie Simms-Kincaid at 5 Loaves Eatery
Connie Simms-Kincaid knows a thing or two about hope. The restaurateur and her husband Robert opened 5 Loaves Eatery in 2005 after losing their jobs. Since then, they’ve faced a collapsed roof, electrical wire theft, and a devastating fire. But the family and their restaurant have endured to become a beacon of hope for their South Side community. Amidst the boarded-up storefronts on 75th Street, including the former soul food institution Army and Lou’s, 5 Loaves is thriving.
The restaurant serves a mix of American classics, like pancakes and omelets for breakfast, and sandwiches and meatloaf for lunch, plus soul food inspired by Robert’s southern roots. The Soulful Sundays menu includes fried chicken, pork chops, collard greens, mac and cheese, and candied yams.
“These are all family recipes, start to finish,” Simms-Kincaid says. “It’s a little bit of mine, my husband, my daughter, my sister, my own mother. Everything is made with a lot of attention and a lot of love.”
Prior to opening 5 Loaves, Simms-Kincaid worked at a restaurant chain for many years and her husband worked in department merchandising and customer service. When they were both laid off, they took a leap of faith and opened the restaurant. But they didn’t have to do it alone – the restaurant is a family business, with parents, kids, aunts, siblings, and cousins working side-by-side.
We want families to come together in our restaurant; and families and strangers to get to know one another....
Daughter Lyndsey Kincaid started working at the restaurant when she was 9, delivering menus and silverware to customers. Now, she’s a freshman at Santa Clara University, but visits the restaurant on breaks. “It’s nice to have the family around because we can all deal with it together,” Kincaid says. “If you’re somewhere that’s not a family restaurant, you’re dealing with it separately.”
Togetherness and community are a big part of the family’s goals for 5 Loaves.
“We want families to come together in our restaurant; and families and strangers to get to know one another, because this is how change is made,” Simms-Kincaid says. “We are giving our area a place to come and to break bread and to talk about issues that are going on in our own neighborhood.”
The Kincaids give away at least one free meal each day to someone in need or a regular customer. “We like to just offer it to them because we don’t understand their entire situation,” Lyndsey says. “When both my parents were laid off, they were struggling, so we like to feed our community.”
The restaurant’s name reflects the family’s spirit of generosity. 5 Loaves refers to a biblical story that came to Simms-Kincaid in a dream. “Jesus fed 5,000 people off five loaves of bread and two fish,” she says. “Sometimes you have to start from exactly where you’re at and still have a sharing heart. We started from little or nothing but we took exactly what we had and were still able to make it grow to share it.”