Click here for COVID-19 updates affecting the campus community

Souls Sista's deals with financial stress of opening new restaurant


Owner Venessa Spratt takes a customer's order Jan. 26 at Soul Sista’s restaurant.

The third time just might be the charm for local soul-food takeout restaurant Soul Sista's, which is set to open Feb. 23.

For owner Vanessa Spratt, a physical location is the next step in a business plan that began as a food truck.

After financial issues, the opening of the restaurant has been delayed.

Soul Sista’s closed Jan. 28, while Spratt waited to obtain a permanent license and the go-ahead from the health department. 

Spratt announced on Facebook that Soul Sista’s would open again on Feb. 21, but an unexpected trip to the hospital for Spratt set the grand opening back to Feb. 23. 

The restaurant, located at 1010 W. Broadway St., which formerly belonged to "Broadway Bistro," was open for two weeks in January under a temporary license in efforts to raise money for the overhead costs of opening the business.

The restaurant is scheduled to be open Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. It will be closed 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. to prepare food for dinner. Once open, Spratt said she is unsure of their regular weekly hours. She has been trying to rest after being in the hospital.

Together, Spratt and her husband Antonio, opened "Soul Sista’s," serving soul food, such as what they would consider “real” fried chicken and smothered pork chops. 

They are the only two employees.

“This has always been a passion of mine,” Vanessa said. “And when I married my husband, he was behind me 100 percent.”

Visitors to the takeout restaurant will notice the sign outside still reads “Broadway Bistro." Vanessa said they haven't been able to find someone with a ladder to take it down. They keep a "Soul Sista's" banner inside, but don't yet have a sign made for the outside. 

Getting the business running has been a challenging endeavor for the Spratts. They have run into obstacles such as money and paperwork — all the way down to the ingredients they need to cook. 

They have had a hard time finding “southern” ingredients for their meals in Mount Pleasant, Vanessa said. From lima beans and black-eyed peas to proper seasonings, they are having to travel themselves or communicate with friends to get ingredients from Detroit. 

“We can find (the ingredients) but we have to drive two (or) three hours to get it,” Antonio said. “That’s too far.”

They have found the Walmart downstate carries more of the ingredients they are looking for, compared to the Mount Pleasant store. As a result, the menu isn’t set in stone. But for them, the menu is only a general guideline.

“We have customers that ask for particular meals," Vanessa said. "I have no problem making those, but its (ingredients) aren't out here at the grocery shop."

A grand opening menu was chosen from a customer, Ellen Polzien, and posted to the restaurant's Facebook page for a contest. They would like to see the chosen menu that features chicken, pork chops, butter beans and macaroni and cheese used at least once a week, Vanessa said. 

The Spratts made it clear they are not running the business to “get rich." They are interested in creating a personal experience where students and community members can enjoy home-cooked meals they may not otherwise be getting. 

“It’s not just a business relationship,” Antonio said. “We want to have a personal and spiritual relationship with anybody who comes through here.”

From students who can’t travel home to disabled and homeless people who can’t afford to cook their own meals, the Spratts hope to build a relationship with their the community through food. 

“Put love into your food, and your food will put love into you,” Antonio said. 

Currently, Soul Sista’s is only accepting cash or money through the Cash App, for smartphones.