Customers are declaring a new Lawndale restaurant the place to go for soul food with a twist.
After being approached by the Lawndale Christian Development Network to enhance the neighborhood, entrepreneur and chef Quentin Love decided to open what he hopes will be a soul food staple on the city’s West Side.
“When we as a culture want to do something fancy, we go outside of our communities to have that experience,” Love said.
And so the Soul Food Lounge, 3804 W. 16th St., was born.
“The Soul Food Lounge is a place where the trend begins to change, where we deeply invest in upscale right in our own backyard …” Love said “The problem that exists is that we don’t have any fine dining or more upscale things in our own community that can bring the property values up.”
Located just next door to the MLK Legacy Apartments, the Soul Food Lounge offers a wide selection of soul food combinations customers say they haven’t seen elsewhere.
“It’s very quaint and swanky, the food is delicious,” said Crystal Rice.
But the menu selection isn’t the only new opportunity customers are finding within the eatery.
“I know we deserve it because so many times in our hood there’s corner stores, but a food desert. In order to eat, we have to put resources in other communities,” said Tynette Wilson.
Rice said having a restaurant in the community goes far beyond just food options.
“It teaches etiquette, especially young people. It teaches them that you can come right in your own community and have a really nice, intimate dinner instead of going downtown … you can get this experience in your own area,” Rice said.
While the restaurant is only a few months into building its impact, Love says it can only continue with support from those both inside and out of the community.
“How do you change the paradigm of violence? You change the paradigm of violence by bringing the beautification of the community, so when you go down corridors of the inner city in Chicago, you see nothing but dilapidated buildings. It’s like a criminal’s haven,” Love said. “But if the developments of thoroughfares are present and there are businesses, then the element changes. So you don’t have to go … the experiences are right in your own backyard.”
Note: This article will update with video.
Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3
Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.