A new Italian eatery is bringing high-quality dishes straight to your table.
When you walk into Mama K’s Kitchen’s light and open restaurant space on University Avenue in Star City, you’ll see the photos—black and white images of people elbow-deep in a mixing bowl or gathered around a long and overflowing table. And if you look around, you’ll probably see a few people doing those very same things. It is in this charming eatery that you’ll be introduced to two women who have a passion for good food and good company: the namesake who inspired it all and the foodie who is carrying the legacy forward.
Mama Kay was an Italian immigrant who came to the States in the early 1900s at only 5 years old and settled into life in the small West Virginia mining town of Farmington. By the time she was 19, she had a husband, five young mouths to feed, and a community with needs that weren’t being met.
The matriarch dedicated herself to creating simple, resourceful recipes that all could enjoy. Her passion became her purpose as she brought people together through tasty, accessible food and close-knit personal connections.
Mama Kay’s great-great-granddaughter has carried on that purpose through her own love of food and gathering. “It’s a story that is similar for many immigrant families,” says Kelsey Kirby, owner of Mama K’s Kitchen, when reflecting on her family history. “She was such an amazing woman.”
A storefront restaurant inspired by the family matriarch has been a long time coming, the young entrepreneur says. Kirby is a West Virginia native. She moved and traveled around the country for many years, but something always brought her back to her home state. “I wanted to build something I was proud of. West Virginia felt like the place where I could do that.”
Like many in her family, Kirby always loved spending time in the kitchen. “In our family, it’s like we wake up and talk about food,” she says with a smile. “When you’re cooking and your family comes in and gathers—it’s happiness.”
Mama K’s Kitchen is a self-described “kitchen for your table.” You won’t find pressed tablecloths or porcelain dishes here, because it’s all about the ease of bringing high-quality, affordable meals to your home for all of your family and friends to enjoy. Meals are crafted with the future in mind—what will still look and taste good in the 20 minutes it takes someone to get home? In a community of people and families on the go, Mama K’s is a fresh and unique take on the local dining experience.
“It’s all about simple food and building a community,” Kirby says. “That’s the spirit that inspired it all.”