As a notable chef and restaurateur, Jim Noble has experienced career success.
He owns restaurants in Charlotte, Winston-Salem and High Point, but his Charlotte-based restaurant, The King’s Kitchen, opened in 2010, was built for something bigger.
Serving Food, Serving God
“The idea for The King’s Kitchen came from a great need,” Noble says.
As a nonprofit restaurant, The King’s Kitchen is a haven for the poor, homeless, previously incarcerated, and drug- or alcohol-addicted looking to change their paths. The eatery also donates 100 percent of its profits to feeding the poor in the Charlotte region.
“We help people make a traditional change and renew their minds through the truth and gospel,” Noble says. He is an ordained minister, and both he and his wife have been involved in Christian ministry for years. The King’s Kitchen holds a Bible study at the restaurant every afternoon.
“If you transform hearts, you transform people and you transform cities. Our goal is not just to move them but to change their lives so they can stand on their own two feet,” Noble says. He says the restaurant helped him combine his two passions – serving food and serving God.
To give those looking to change a chance, The King’s Kitchen offers a 40-week training program for high- risk individuals, utilizing them as employees and interns, teaching them life skills in the process that they can carry on to other jobs or help them become financially stable.
“When I was unemployed, I was paying rent with my unemployment checks. I had no choice but to stop doing drugs because I didn’t have any money for them,” says Ronald Ivan Simmons, one of the restaurant’s employees and training program graduates.
“I messed up, but you just have to do the best you can. You only have one life, so you have to live it the best you can.” He says that working at The King’s Kitchen has helped him a lot in the later years of his life, and he is closer to the church than before.
“I love working here,” Simmons says. “I do everything but cook.”
As far as actually running a restaurant, Noble was more than experienced, honing in on the local food movement before it was the next big thing.
“The relationship we have with local farmers is awesome. We use them in all our restaurants and have been for a long time,” he says. “I started organic farming in the 1990s and had rabbits and chickens. We plan to raise organic produce for our restaurants once we get the Dream Center.”
Noble and his wife are very involved in the opening of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Dream Center, similar to the one started in Los Angeles, in order to take care of the region’s homeless, partnering with other local businesses to offer services and more.
He adds that although The King’s Kitchen is different from his other restaurants, nothing is sacrificed as far as quality goes.
“In the restaurant business you usually try to look for the best person for each position,” Noble says. “Here, we bring in people who have absolutely no skills.”
The restaurant has trained about 15 or 20 people through its program as of mid-2016, but its outreach through discipleship and meals given to people in need – close to 25,000 – proves just as rewarding.
“When you go to neighborhoods and help people with whatever they need, whether food or just mowing the lawn, it’s amazing what happens,” Noble says.