Varina couple opens Gilpin Court restaurant - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Varina couple opens Gilpin Court restaurant

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

A new restaurant has opened in the unlikeliest of places--a Richmond housing project. The owners are offering the Gilpin Court community so much more than food.

Inner City Blues Takeout is in a small building, which is the only thing on a block of East Charity Street in Gilpin. That scene is indicative of a larger problem, which the owners of the new restaurant are trying to address.

If you visit any other neighborhood in Richmond, it's easy to find a place to eat. That's not the case in Gilpin Court. The options there consist of food you can buy in a convenience store.

"Before we came, you had to either go to Broad Street to get something to eat or way over to Chamberlayne," Inner City Blues owner Lamont Hawkins said.

That's only part of the reason he and his wife, Alisha, came to a place they believe many have written off to open Inner City Blues Takeout.

"When you just forget about them, they go down real quick," Lamont told us.

When we visited the restaurant Thursday morning, sirens wailed outside.

"It don't discourage us," Lamont reacted.

The Hawkins admit they're always concerned for their safety, but not in a way that scares them or in a way that would scare them away.

"It's just something about food that brings out the good in some people," Lamont mused.

So, the couple comes from Varina each day to make soul food under a name that's supposed to send a message.

"We wanted to let them know that we understand what you're going through," Lamont added. "We understand you want to do better. Don't be afraid to take a chance."

After all, the Hawkins are taking a chance there.

"That's a good thing because you don't see places like this around here," first-time customer Johnnie Wilkerson reacted.

It's too soon to tell if any other restaurants will follow suit and open locations in the under-served housing projects of Richmond.

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