Where: Jada's Soul Food Take-out and Catering, 1616 Beld St. (formerly Mr. P's, owned by the late Gene Parks and his father)
Why you should go: For fresh, flaky catfish done in delicate batter, fried chicken in the crispiest golden shell, collards and mac n' cheese on the side, banana pudding so bright it's like sunshine on a cloudy day ' and much more.
You just opened two weeks ago, and there's already lots of buzz over your business. How did it happen?
Linda: It started with my husband's passion. He's been cooking since he was 12. He's 30 now, and he always wanted a restaurant. About two years ago we started doing Soul Food Sundays at Da Vinci's restaurant on Rimrock Road. People just loved it ' everybody'd ask when we were going to go every day. We were looking for a spot, but meanwhile we started Dirt Destroyers residential cleaning service and a gift shop. I know Rev. Larry Jackson [Jackson used to have his own soul food place, Delta Taste on
Perry Street] from growing up in this community. He'd bought this building from the Parks family and asked if we were interested in doing a full-time restaurant here. So now we've got three businesses. Two years ago all of this was just ideas in our heads,
and now everything's come to fruition. We're definitely blessed.
Some of the stories behind your recipes?
Jackie: My family owned Shorty's Soul Food on the South Side of Chicago. I took what I remembered and tried to make it better. The new, improved recipes we use here are my own creations.
Linda: I helped! With the fried chicken, we burned a lotta grease. There's a secret; you've got to have the right combination of wet and dry ingredients. If you can get that and come up with the right seasonings to fit everybody's palate, you've got it right.
Jackie: There's the pound cake ' my favorite dessert. I learned to make it at MATC and kept changing the recipe, adding lemon one day and buttermilk the next, taking eggs out and adding 'em in, till I nailed it. My pound cake took first place in a Juneteenth cooking contest, and I've sold thousands right out of my house.
Linda: The first time he made greens was for our daughter's second birthday. He used too many peppers and set everybody on fire. Now it's one of our best-selling sides, along with Jack's mother's cornbread dressing and gravy. And her sweet potato pie is out of this world.
Jackie: We're the only ones in town who make chitterlings, and we sell out all the time. Jada's Famous Banana Pudding got its name 'cause we sell so much of it. We've really put these recipes through the wringer. Anything that's on the menu is definitely something we love.
Does the ghost of Gene Parks rattle around late at night?
Linda: You know, I think his blessing is here. I knew Gene's family well. His twin sister popped in here a couple of days ago, and she loved the food. It feels good to be in this place and know that people get nostalgic about Mr. P's. We're thrilled to be here. It's a blessing and an honor. We're here to stay, and this is just the beginning. We've got some great things planned.