The Mayobird Gets A New Home
The chicken salad eatery moves into Dilworth
It started out as a food truck specializing in chicken salad, but The Mayobird has a new brick-and-mortar home in the former Caribou Coffee spot on East Boulevard. “I always loved chicken salad,” says owner Deedee Mills. “Maybe I was a weird kid.”
The menu still hinges on chicken salad; there are more than a dozen varieties available, each made with free-range chicken from local butcher What’s Your Beef. Options include the Southern, made with pickles and eggs, and the Heater, studded with roasted jalapeños. Each can be ordered as a sandwich or on a salad. Other offerings include deli standards like egg salad or turkey and sides like copper pennies, a cold, sweet-and-sour carrot salad. A breakfast menu with quiches, a frittata, biscuits, and more is served from 6 to 11 a.m. “All of [the food] is comforting to me,” Mills says. “Most everything is a recipe from my past.”
The eatery’s casual, rustic décor is connected to Mills’s past too. Barn wood on the walls and counter came from old tobacco barns in Williamston, North Carolina, her hometown. Oversized vintage spools on the tables came from Mills’s home and serve a clever purpose, holding wooden spoons painted with customers’ order numbers. “I just want people to feel comfortable, like I’m the neighbor and everyone’s coming over for dinner or for lunch,” she says.
But there’s a deeper meaning to Mills’s desire to launch this cozy, comfort-focused restaurant: It supports Behailu Academy, the nonprofit arts-based afterschool program for underserved middle- and high-schoolers she launched in 2011. A portion of the restaurant’s proceeds is donated to the organization, and Mills plans to make it a teaching tool for some of the program’s participants.
“One of our employees right now is from the Behailu Academy,” she says. “It steals my heart whenever I walk in and see him because, in my mind, that’s the reason why we’re there. With the restaurant, I can really now help to do that. I can provide jobs for these kids or for other people, to really make a difference.”