Aunt Mary’s Kitchen brings new soul to Milford

Aunt Mary’s Kitchen, born out of passion and love, has been open for nearly a year serving up a soul food not offered elsewhere in Milford.

Mary Zachery, a Slaughter Neck native, started cooking when her mother went blind. With 13 brothers and sisters and six children of her own, someone needed to take to the kitchen and feed the masses. Now, 50-year-old Aunt Mary can also add six grandchildren to the mix.

“As I was coming up, I watched my mother feed the world. Everybody always came over to eat, I mean she fed everybody. So, I have been doing this over 20 years now. It’s just a passion for me now. It’s just something that I like to do, well I love to do,” she said.

Ms. Zachery started selling platters of food — and she would sell out each weekend. The Aunt Mary brand was born, but it needed some help.

Her son, Jermaine Zachery, had moved to California where he found himself working in the catering industry. He worked hard to grow another business by utilizing social media and working with his own two hands while learning every aspect of the industry.

“I came home and saw what my mom was doing by just selling platters at home. And then I thought, hold on. I was just out there doing this for this guy, a complete stranger. Let me go home and go ahead and expand my mother’s brand,” he said.

When the Delaware family came together, they were unstoppable.

“We invested in fryers, cake pans, deep fryers, signs and started setting up at the Farmers Market in downtown Dover. We set up at the peach festivals, the African festival, the one in Bridgeville, Blackbird Creek Festival — and we always had a good turnout. Everybody kept asking where we were from? Everybody kept saying you all should get a restaurant,” he added.

“So, in 2016, I got surprised with this,” Ms. Zachery said of their new brick and mortar location in Milford. “My son showed it to me on my birthday and me the keys to it. That was the best day of my life. It’s the bomb. My son did a great job.”

A year and many renovations later, Aunt Mary’s Kitchen was ready for its first customer. Serving up soul food and seafood, Ms. Zachery excitedly worked out of her new, professional kitchen as the customers flocked to her.

“When we got this, it was a shell. We had to do the floors, drywall, everything in the kitchen and get new equipment… It was a big step. I didn’t know what I was really signing up for at first. I never opened a restaurant. I was learning things as I went. We would hit a hiccup and just keep going,” her son said.

After a successful first year, they hope to expand the brand with a food truck and possibly more locations in the near future.

“I want to take it lightly. Before summer starts, we’d like to add a food truck. Then, I want to get a spin and get like two other stores. We’re preparing for other stores by training other people as we go. Milford is really out of the way, so we want to get into other locations. But, for us, most of our clientele was from Dover or the beaches, so Milford expanded our clientele right away,” Mr. Zachery said.

“That’s why I’m looking forward to the movie theatre moving in. Location is everything. Location, location, location.”

Aunt Mary’s Kitchen can be found online at www.auntmaryssoulfoodkitchen.com or auntmaryskitchen2015@gmail.com. They can be reached by phone at 302-422-SOUL. Visit them in person at 955 N. DuPont Blvd. in Milford Tuesdays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. or Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m.

Reach staff writer Jennifer Antonik at jantonik@newszap.com

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