Soul food restaurant to open in Belleville
It took longer than expected but Christi Robertson has found a home for her new soul food restaurant in Belleville.
Robertson had announced last year that she would open at 225 N. Illinois St. but that location needed too many renovations, so she started searching for a new place. She found the former Nanny’s Lou’s space to be in “turnkey” shape.
The menu featuring soul food will change often and include chef specials. It also will have soul food staples such as fried chicken and fried fish.
Robertson kicked off the weekend with fried catfish and fried whole jack fish, which also is known as whiting.
On Sunday, look for smothered pork chops, northern white beans, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese on the menu.
Future dishes may include oxtail and turkey wings. When the weather turns cooler, Robertson wants to offer soups, gumbo and chowders.
As a steady stream of customers stopped by Friday, Robertson said she was busy but described it as a “good busy.” She had several family members helping out with the first day of business.
Robertson says she will encourage customers to try new things she prepares but she also will survey customers to see what they want.
I just want people to feel comfortable and feel that they can just come in and just feel like they’re at home,” Robertson said.
“People fail to realize that soul food is not just fried chicken or greens. There’s soul food in Mexican food, there’s soul food in Chinese food. It’s all about feeding your soul. It’s comfort food that makes you feel good. When you eat the food and it makes you feel good, that’s what soul food is. It’s feeding your soul, that’s all.”
For the past six years, Robertson has worked for the St. Louis University public safety dispatch department but resigned her post on Wednesday so she could devote her full attention to running her new restaurant.
Robertson said she has been catering for the past several years but has wanted to run her own place. When she was a girl, her father had a hamburger and ice cream stand in East St. Louis.
On the eve of her official first day in business, Robertson said she was “feeling real good.
“Dreams really do come true,” she said. “That’s where I’m at right now.”
The “C and C” in her restaurant’s name comes from her first name and that of her daughter, Christin, who is a freshman at Tennessee State University.
To prepare for opening on Friday, Robertson said she has had a soft opening with family and friends in recent days. A grand opening is slated for Sept. 27.
Robertson said all main items will be cooked to order and she will make all of her desserts. There will be full table service for diners but carryout orders also will be offered. She expects get her liquor license next month.
When the House of Dogs closed early this year, the owner Gary Raymond, cited a sewer odor issue with the building as a reason to close but Mike Buettner, who ran Nanny Lou’s Kitchen, has said the sewer pipe was fixed and there is no problem. Robertson agreed with Buettner that there isn’t a problem with the restaurant space she is now leasing.
Robertson, a self-described “foodie” who hopes to buy the West Main Street building, wants one of her favorite chefs, Guy Fieri, to make a visit.
“My goal is to have ‘Diners, Drive-ins and Dives’ to come to this spot,” she said of the Food Network television show Fieri hosts.
The hours will be 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. It will be closed Monday to Wednesday.
BEHIND OUR REPORTING
Why did we report this story?
We wanted to give BND readers the latest info on a new place to get lunch or dinner in the metro-east. Also, this story will introduce you to C and C Food For Your Soul owner Christi Robertson, who said she’s ready to start offering soul food to customers from throughout the St. Louis metro area.