Yonder, the Appalachian comfort food kitchen that spun off from chef Maya Lovelace’s itinerant series of suppers called Mae, will serve its last fluffy angel biscuits at the end of June.
However, you might call this more of a transition than a closure. Today, Lovelace simultaneously announced Yonder’s shuttering with news that she is launching a new project called Hissyfit.
“The last couple of years have been intensely difficult for restaurants in Portland and across the country,” Lovelace wrote in an email. “We feel so lucky to have weathered the storm thanks to the support of our wonderful customers and community, but now it’s time for us to focus on something new. This summer we are shaking things up to make space for more creative freedom and more fun, cooking for the joy of it, and letting our unfettered whims carry us wherever they may go.”
The spirited concept will be fleshed out in the dining room, which is scheduled to be made over with funky shades of pink and deep green as well as lush, botanical wallpaper. Expect a forest’s worth of plants throughout the space as well as earthy stoneware and matte gold flatware.
The kitchen will carry forward some of Yonder’s personality, so you can expect Southern ingredients and flavors alongside globally inspired dishes—a “focus on freedom from constraint,” as Lovelace put it. She also plans to source produce and sustainably raised meat and fish from local farms, while continuing relationships with Southern purveyors, like South Carolina-based heirloom grain grower Anson Mills and country ham king Allan Benton.
The name of the new restaurant itself is also a nod to freedom from restrictions, this time of the societal kind.
“‘Hissy fit’ is a classic Southernism for a tantrum, specifically used in regards to the sass and emotional outbursts of women,” Lovelace explained. “We’re adopting the name for its linguistic ferocity, its cultural depth, and its evocation of the wild and untamed feminine.”
It could also be a reference to the uproar surrounding Lovelace’s 2020 social media campaign in which she asked other people in the restaurant industry to recount toxic work environments they’d experienced, and then shared those accusations with her followers. The flurry of posts over the course of several days that summer were part of an industry reckoning regarding low pay, unpredictable hours, and abuse following mass layoffs because of the pandemic. The public airing of complaints and concerns was both applauded and criticized.
Joining Lovelace in Yonder’s transformation is dining room manager Eric Pavey, formerly of Little Bird, Nostrana and Gruner, and chef de cuisine Kevin Jones, who spent time in the kitchens at Xico, Sitka & Spruce and Seattle’s Girin.
You have until June 26 to get your last bites of Yonder fried chicken. Following dinner service that day, it will officially close. Hissyfit is slated to open July 6.