Local soul food restaurant continues serving community after 35 years

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Soul food or food for the soul. It’s a staple throughout the U.S. forged in the African American community.

While soul food is loved by many, the restaurants that serve it have been in decline.

Helen’s Kitchen is one of the few soul food restaurants thriving in the Golden Triangle. And after 35 years in business, Ms. Helen said she’s ready to share her secret.

So what’s the secret recipe you may ask for soul food and business?

“The love of people,” said Ms. Helen.

On 7th Avenue North in Columbus, there’s a place still cooking up soul food favorites, including Friday’s fried catfish. Ms. Helen Jones-Karriem of Helen’s Kitchen said there is a difference between homestyle cooking and soul food.

“I cook, I cook, I don’t get in there and warm up stuff and order stuff from the truck. I cook. Do you know this morning, we got up and prepared everything that had been cooked? Cook, we’ve been cooking,” said Jones-Karriem.

86-year-old Helen Jones-Karriem has been serving her community fine cuisines for 35 years. There’s not much she hasn’t seen or cooked.

“The easiest pie to make is that you can make it; I don’t care to make lemon pies, but for some reason, that meringue doesn’t do right most of the time,” said Jones-Karriem. “Everything hasn’t been sugar and sweet like things like that but God has been good to us he’s just been blessing us.”

When the tornado hit in 2019, Ms. Helen said it seemed like a miracle when a food trailer was brought to her business. But due to a power outage, she couldn’t store the food. So, she passed the blessing on to the community, another one of her secrets, giving.

“Sure enough they went to sunflower and got baskets, I mean the whole porch. There were even some on the side, and I let them have it because I couldn’t use it I had nowhere to put it,” said Jones-Karriem.

Helen’s Kitchen and Catering is gearing up for its grand re-opening this spring but invited people to try their curbside.

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