By Jess Clawson
When you walk into a restaurant and the chef asks what kind of day you’re having before she decides what she’d like to make for you or remembers how you take your coffee after just a couple of visits, you know you’re in a place purpose-built to make sure people feel like family.
Kim Ragland, owner of the Boyd’s Nest Family Restaurant in Berryville, is committed to ensuring that anyone who enters her restaurant has a meal they will love and feel like they are in her home kitchen. From the décor to the menu to her commitment to getting to know her community, Ragland works to make sure everyone is happy in her space. “I love that for many of our customers we are their home away from home,” she says.
The foundations of the Boyd’s Nest are deeply rooted in Ragland’s familial traditions. Her mother’s maiden name is Boyd, and her grandmother named their summer home in Marquette, MI, the Boyd’s Nest. “You could say it was always the most like home,” Ragland recalls, “and where I learned to cook.” Her grandmother would put a large pot of oatmeal on the stove every morning, inspiring the Nana’s Oatmeal dish on her breakfast menu.
Her decision to use the name for her restaurant was made easier when she realized that Clarke County High School’s mascot is the Eagles. She also carries a Seattle-based coffee called Boyd’s. The coincidence confirmed her impulse to name the restaurant after her childhood escape.
Ragland designed the menu to be inclusive: “I envisioned having a dining room with all kinds of different people in it and everyone could find something to eat that they could afford.” Furthermore, because she prepares almost all food from scratch, she knows exactly what goes into the food. It is important to Ragland that “people with food allergies feel safe at the Boyd’s Nest because we actually know what is in [the food] because we put it there.”
She has regular customers from as far away as Ashburn who appreciate that they can get a quality meal that suits any dietary restrictions they may have. Ragland’s commitment to inclusivity includes not restricting the kids’ menu to children. “We have several seniors who can’t eat a big meal and a kid’s portion is just the right size.”
Further, all of their ingredients are locally sourced whenever possible. The restaurant has a good relationship with Audley Farms, who supplies their beef. She and her husband have their own garden that supplies a lot of vegetables for their restaurant.
The Boyd’s Nest is not Ragland’s first foray into self-employment. She has worked for herself in the commercial food industry for most of her adult life, including developing flavor profiles for Costco in partnership with Monterey Pasta, which is carried at the Boyd’s Nest. She worked as a consultant for Sheraton Hotels for 16 years, which gave her experience in hospitality that serves her well in the restaurant.
Ragland also owns a catering business operating under the Boyd’s Nest name. She has strong relationships in Loudon County and does several annual events there, as well as catering in Clarke County. She cautions people not to be fooled by the size of her restaurant, which seats 30—the restaurant is not too small to handle any catering need. In fact, the building is large enough to accommodate all of her catering equipment. “We fed about 2000 people in two days at The Gathering,” she points out. “I have catered backyard weddings for 50 and formal plated events for 200.” She has a complete portable gas kitchen complete with fryer, oven, stove, burners, and holding hot and cold boxes. “You would be amazed where we have catered and who we have catered for,” she says.
She did not know anyone in Berryville when they opened the restaurant, but over the past three and a half years they have settled into stride and built a community of friends through her restaurant. “We have laughed and cried together,” Ragland says of her regulars. “We have buried loved ones together and celebrated births. We have been a part of weddings, milestone birthdays, anniversaries, and funerals.” Overall, “Berryville has made me feel welcome and a part of the family.” Ragland has certainly returned the favor.