Soul Food Online History Page
Rob Adams and his girlfriend, Alisa Chambers, came up with a great way to help their son save money for his wedding.
A few months ago, the couple decided to combine soul food recipes and sell meals to people in the community.
“With Rob’s love for cooking, we decided to hold a fish fry on the weekends,” Chambers said.
Soon after, the pair decided to go beyond raising money for their son; they want to open up their own restaurant some day.
Adams admits he has wanted to start his own business for years. His son’s wedding was a great opportunity to see if his food could draw a crowd.
In only two months, Adams and Chambers saw overwhelming growth and began taking lunches to employees at William T. Barnette. Now, they estimate they have more than 50 customers a day.
The factory menu includes spaghetti, pork chops, barbecue ribs, fish, collard greens, cornbread and other fixings that Adams said are family favorites.
“The fish fry grew into the business. People kept coming by and asking if we were cooking,” Chambers said. “One night, some people came to the door and Rob jumped up and started cooking. ... They ate over $50 worth of food and also left a nice tip.”
Their Ford Taurus doubles as a delivery van. Chambers’ specialties include chocolate cake, strawberry pies and cobblers, while Adams specializes in fried chicken, baked macaroni, fish and potato salad.
“I remember my mother, Dorris Jean Parker, making me come in the kitchen to cook,” Adams said.
“She said if you don’t learn to cook for yourself, you could go hungry, so I learned quickly how to make my way around the kitchen.”
He said the business shares more than just good food.
“I hope it encourages others to dream and that it makes them hungry enough to give us a call ... we know they will come back.”
While in his apron, Adams shared his dream to move their business from the small home on South Elm Street to a restaurant where locals can enjoy a little soul food.
“Everyone in the African-American community knows that the kitchen table is the meeting spot,” Adams said. “That’s where you sample our culture and taste all of the love that went in to making the meal.”
Though he has only used simple forms of advertising - placing posters in community centers, churches and all around town - Adams believes he is on his way.
He plans to buy a van to see how good of a reception they get at college and NASCAR events, which they hope will lead to opening a restaurant.
“I’d love to open it and call it ‘Back In the Day,’ a place that takes you back to a different time,” Adams said.
“I want a place for the family to come and sit and enjoy their meal, with memorabilia that showcases the history of soul food and some of the things in our culture that could provoke conversations.”
Earnest Howard is a weekly customer.
He said he keeps coming back for the fish and Polish sausage dogs.
“It’s great when you can eat food that reminds you of what your mother used to make,” Howard said. “It’s also a great idea for those that want to learn about all the delicious dishes we have in our culture.”
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