There in the back kitchen at Kinch’s restaurant in downtown Rock Hill, elbow-deep in mixing meatloaf and frying chicken, love bloomed.
Sure, Kenny Hope cooking the lunch specials and Anita Roseborough simmering the peas have been a couple for years – right there amid the smells and the steam.
But on Saturday, love becomes official. Roseborough becomes Hope. The couple, together 21 years, iconic in this kitchen where a whole city knows Hope gently barking out the orders and Roseborough’s soft demeanor, will get married.
“In a church, not in the kitchen,” Roseborough, the 47-year-old bride, said Tuesday morning during the daily miracle that is lunch prep.
“It was time to make it right in God’s eyes,” added Hope. “I’m 49 and I had to do this before I turned 50. I told her last fall that March was it. It was time.”
Hope then called over his shoulder to the kitchen staff: “Now somebody please check that cornbread.”
Through years working together – first at a clothing warehouse, then the last dozen years at Kinch’s across the street from city hall – Hope and Roseborough have lived together almost the whole time. They have walked to work together, home together, gone everywhere together.
They are possibly downtown Rock Hill’s most visible couple.
“Legally, I guess we have been together so long we are what is called common-law married, but ’Nita deserves to be a bride,” Hope said.
So, in between five days a week of early morning breakfasts for customers, and cooking all those lunches for more customers, the couple planned a wedding.
The kitchen staff is in the mix – literally as the soup is mixed and the dumplings are mixed – talk of weddings is mixed. The waitresses will be there and the dishwashers will be there.
Elizabeth Ann Roseborough, Anita’s sister, works alongside both in the kitchen.
“Everybody is excited for them,” Elizabeth said.
Kinch Edwards, the owner, was so excited that the wedding was coming that he put a registry box on a stool, complete with a board just like the daily specials board. Regulars stuffed bills, big and small, in the box with signatures on the money to show love for the kitchen couple.
“Two great people – this shows what love is all about,” said Edwards.
Through the big window that separates the kitchen from the dining room at Kinch’s, customers yell and holler through: “Congratulations!” as the words from Hope and Roseborough come out the other way: “Order up!”
The Rev. Stanley Wells – who moonlights as a captain at the York County Sheriff’s Office – will perform the ceremony at the church he pastors and the couple attends, Mount Zion Church & Kingdom of God.
“This wedding is a true blessing that shows the grace of God,” Wells said. “And people know the two of them as a couple already.”
So on Saturday, Hope will trade in apron for tuxedo. Roseborough will shed her apron, too, and there will be flowers and all the stuff that brides get, and she will wear a wedding gown she picked out with her matron of honor – her grown daughter, Imaria.
Her grown son, Vincent Roseborough, will give away his mother.
“I am going to be a princess,” Anita Roseborough said. “But you can be sure. Saturday, my wedding day, no cooking that day. Not me and not Kenny, either.”
In Kinch’s kitchen, Kenny Hope is the boss. Hope will do what all grooms do Saturday – whatever he is told.
In life outside a restaurant kitchen, and in a wedding after 21 years as a couple, there is just one boss.
“Her,” said Hope.
His soon-to-be-wife did not argue.