Opened February 2019
On February 20, 2019 Nikki Kaelber opened Laura’s Family Restaurant on what would have been her mother, Laura’s, 53rd birthday. Laura, and her husband Ken Hallett, owned and operated Southside Café, on Route 9 in Poughkeepsie, NY, for over 27 years. Laura’s now occupies the same space where Southside stood for so long as a community staple.
Southside was always a big part of Nikki’s life. She worked there for eight years as a server and bartender. Even when not working she spent a significant amount of time there because the restaurant was a “central hub” of sorts for her family. In October of 2015 Nikki’s mom, Laura, passed away suddenly from a brain aneurysm at 49 years old. Her step-father continued to run Southside until July of 2017 when he passed away unexpectedly at 57 during a routine medical procedure.
After the tragedies that plagued her family those few years the idea of taking over Southside never crossed Nikki’s mind. Her sisters put the restaurant up for sale and it sat, without any offers, for almost two years. Nikki was a paralegal at a prominent local law firm, and doing well in that position. However, she wasn’t happy. One evening Nikki’s sister suggested taking over the space and opening her own restaurant. She was apprehensive, but little did she know taking that leap would be the best thing that would ever happen to her.
Laura’s Family Restaurant offers comfort food, at comfortable prices, made with quality ingredients. From their hearty, seasonal soups to their signature entrees of crispy, honey-dipped fried chicken and delicious white cheddar Mac n cheese, the food at Laura’s evokes the cozy nostalgia of a home-cooked meal. Weekly specials are made with seasonal ingredients.
Nikki is immensely passionate about supporting other local small businesses as much as possible. Laura’s carries products from businesses based in Poughkeepsie, Highland, and Newburgh, as well as craft beer options from all over the Hudson Valley. Laura’s is, at its core, a community-focused restaurant, and strives to source as many local ingredients and products as possible from small businesses throughout the Hudson Valley.
Nikki’s mother, Laura, showed her how to welcome customers into a restaurant, and treat them as if they were guests in her own home. She’s proud to carry on this legacy in the restaurant that bears her mother’s name.