Oldest Chicago Soul Food Restaurant Celebrates 50th Anniversary
A historical landmark in the Black community celebrated its 50th anniversary on Oct 13. The Chicago soul food restaurant St. Rest Country Kitchen is hailed as the oldest-running Black-owned restaurant of its kind in the city.
The South Side restaurant boasts “serving heart food [and] feeding people one legacy at a time.” Located on 87th Street and Cottage Grove, St. Rest Country Kitchen has been run by the same family for two generations. According to Fox 32 Chicago, the current owner and head chef Daniella Coffey and her husband, John, run the restaurant now. In 2021, Coffey inherited St. Rest from her dad, Rev. Larry Hopkins, who originally founded the spot in 1972. In a story of resilience, her father’s restaurant was facing severe financial debt, to the tune of $600,000, at the time and was on the brink of foreclosure. After Coffey took over, her father passed away just two months later.
Just a year after restructuring the business, the Coffey family paid off the debt and jumped-started the business again. When she took over at St. Rest, Coffey made it her mission to keep the traditions of the restaurant alive. The task is made easier by 77-year-old matriarch, Sophia Hopkins, still serving as the head waitress.
“Great customer service, sanitation, and great food. Those are our pillars here and, of course, faith,” Coffey said.
General Manager Angela Chatman added, “As soon as you walk through the doors, everyone is family. That’s just how it is Down South back in the day.”
St. Rest Country Kitchen is open from Friday to Sunday and serves soul food dishes like smothered pork chops, short ribs, cabbage, mac and cheese, candied yams, and more.
Coffey left the outlet with the advice that all women should be confident in the path that they want to walk. She said, “You don’t need another person to validate you. You have everything that you need in your hands. The only thing left is for you to use it.”