RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Southern Kitchen Restaurant in Jackson Ward made its national television debut Tuesday night after being featured on Gordon Ramsay’s “24 Hours to Hell and Back.”
It was an episode filled with "tough love," but it was also filled with lots of lessons, something owner Shane Roberts-Thomas is grateful to have received.
As the name suggests, the menu at Southern Kitchen Restaurant includes lots of good southern food, complete with lots of southern hospitality.
However, in Gordon Ramsay's latest episode of "24 Hours to Hell and Back", Southern Kitchen needed a lot more to thrive than good eats and nice manners in an upscale environment.
"Initially, I was a little offended. I was like it's nothing wrong with my restaurant," said Roberts-Thomas."It was so humbling."
It needed its owner to listen and let go - for the success of her restaurant, and most importantly, for the success of her family.
"I am very controlling. I love to have everything my way," said Roberts-Thomas.
Yet, it didn’t quite work that way once the famed restaurant expert entered the scene in a most unusual way.
“The next thing I know, a man stands up in the middle of the floor and says ‘Shane,’ with his London accent. ‘Shane, come from the kitchen.’ I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ I walk out. He said, ‘Do you know who I am?’ I said, ‘You’re Gordon Ramsay.’”
Ramsay travels the country changing restaurants for the better in just 24 hours.
Here at Southern Kitchen, customers will notice those changes including a fresh new look with a nod to Jackson Ward’s rich history.
"The piano in the middle of the floor, which was done by a professional woodworker that does designs all over the country. They'll see the planting is different. They'll see the silhouette on the wall of the jazz artists," said Roberts-Thomas.
However, customers may also notice a change in Roberts-Thomas, thanks to the valuable life-changing lessons learned through the experience. They may now notice an owner who now steps back to take better care of herself and her family to help her business reach its full potential.
“He taught me money matters. He taught me to love myself first. Love my children first. Be responsible for your family,” said Roberts-Thomas. “Overall, I learned to let go. Let go. It’s OK to say you need help. It’s OK. Be humble and let go sometimes.”
It was definitely an emotional episode, but it is an experience Roberts-Thomas, as well as her family and staff, won’t soon forget.