Carrie’s Kitchen is bringing a little more soul to downtown Johnstown.
With its sunny color scheme and local decor, the restaurant on Main Street harkens back to the days of the downtown diner.
But as attractive as the restaurant is, it's the homestyle cooking that brings diners back a second time.
Carrie’s Kitchen is owned by Nikki and Butch Manson and while his wife runs things out front, Butch creates the foods that bring customers back.
Among one of the more popular items on the menu is the couple's fresh fried catfish that pairs well with collard greens and macaroni and cheese. Butch has a signature sauce he calls remoulade sauce that goes perfectly with the catfish.
Other customer favorites include shrimp egg rolls, buffalo chicken ranch sandwiches and cheese steaks, of course.
Hailing from Philadelphia, Butch is quite proud of his cheese steaks and Nikki is very proud of her husband’s cooking. “He has a gift for knowing what ingredients complement one another, making his dishes stand out from the rest,” she says.
Although the menu consists of the finest soul foods, Butch says that every now and again he enjoys making customer requests that are not on the menu.
He says he likes to challenge himself by recreating dishes he has never made before. His wife giggles as Butch confidently says that he should be on the television show Chopped because he believes that he is just that good.
Nikki and Butch come from similar backgrounds and have overcome many challenges. Butch and his five children moved to Johnstown from Philadelphia so that he could build a better life for them. Nikki and her six children stayed in Johnstown eventually starting a family with Butch and his five.
They have been married for 11 years and Butch says they are soul mates. Nikki agrees that they are meant to be.
Prior to owning Carrie’s Kitchen, the couple ran a cheese steak and hoagie business called M&M Variety located in the Oakhurst section of Johnstown. They became owners of Carrie's Kitchen in March of 2019.
Nikki says it has always been her dream to own a soul-food restaurant and while Butch has his own landscaping business to take care of, he is determined to help make his wife’s dreams come true.
When asked what their future goals and plans are, Nikki’s eyes lit up. She says that she would love to add entertainment and special events to Carrie’s Kitchen, including events like sip-and-paints and poetry nights.
Now that their 11 children are grown, the couple has more time to focus on building their business, but say their biggest challenge is finding the funds to do it. Butch says he believes that, as a black man, he has to give 120 percent in order to be successful.
Nikki is currently looking for programs to help her hire trustworthy employees.
Carrie’s kitchen is located on Main St. in downtown Johnstown. While normally open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, it is now operating under restrictions due to Covid19.