BEDFORD — A group of siblings have opened an unlikely pair of businesses under the same roof in the town of Bedford.
With Cjay Jones’ passion for cooking and Barbara Mays’ passion for hair styling, the siblings launched Sooul Food Restaurant as well as Hair Wear Beauty Supply, off U.S. 460 at 1057 Hull Street behind Little Caesar’s.
Home-cooked comfort food is offered as carry-out in one half of the building, and hair accessories are sold in the other half.
“It was all my brother’s vision,” Mays said of Jones. “This all came about when he saw this spot and he said, ‘What do you think about a business opportunity?’ So we brought our two passions together.”
Their sister, Angela Jones, has a love for both, so she helps out with each business.
Cjay Jones learned how to cook from his mother and grandmother. He said he enjoys creating new flavors and recipes with seasoning.
Menu items include catfish, smothered pork chops, rib tips, chicken wings, fried chicken and spaghetti.
“There are no other soul food places around here,” he said. “So you can’t go anywhere and get a home-cooked meal. We want people to know that we actually take our time and put a lot of thought in what we do and cook with love; nothing is rushed.”
Mays said it has been special to share the recipes her family grew up with.
“Even though the older people have passed away, we’ve watched them cook with love and the food was excellent. Not everyone can cook like this; it’s magical,” Mays said. “It’s really a blessing. The Lord has used our ancestors to help us in this next generation.”
The restaurant opened in January while the hair supply shop opened in November.
Hair Wear Beauty Supply offers hair extensions shampoos, oils, braiding extensions, eyelashes, lace front wigs and headbands, said Mays, who has 25 years’ experience as a hairstylist.
She said there is no place in Bedford to find these products and customers have to travel to Roanoke or Lynchburg to find them.
Eventually the siblings hope to offer extended hours for the restaurant — which is open from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays — and put picnic tables outside when the weather warms up.
Mays said working with family can be challenging as the trio has never gone into business together before, but they have all learned to bring their visions to life.
“We all have our opinions and we take everyone’s ideas and come into one agreement together,” she said.
Alisa Hall, a Bedford resident, said she found out about the restaurant on Facebook and has since ordered carry-out about once a week.
“The food is absolutely delicious,” she said. “It’s so convenient because I work in Roanoke, so to come home and be able to grab some good takeout and not have to cook dinner is wonderful.”
Hall said she hasn’t had food like the kind sold at Sooul Food since her now deceased grandmother cooked it for her.
“It’s definitely something Bedford needed,” she said.
Kristy Milton, a Bedford resident, said the restaurant is meeting an untouched market for comfort food in the town.
“We’ve lost some businesses during the pandemic and to have someone with the courage to open a new business is exciting,” she said.
Mary Zirkle, economic development coordinator for the town of Bedford, said she has heard good things about the new restaurant and has enjoyed working with the family as they got started.
“The new Sooul Food is so exciting, bringing a new type of restaurant, especially one that is Black-owned,” she said. “I so hope the community will support them because the location can be a tough one but it also has potential, being close to [U.S.] 460. I think they will be a model for other Black-owned businesses and we wish them well.”