Black-owned restaurant owners express food’s impact on Laurel, Hub City communities
PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - Soul food brings people together in the Pine Belt.
Restaurant owner Pearl Campbell said that soul food has been a part of her life since she was a little girl.
Campbell is the owner of Pearl’s Diner in downtown Laurel and has been serving the community since 2017. She said her inspiration was her grandmother.
“The one thing that really inspired me was that I was born in the restaurant business,” said Campbell. “That’s my grandma’s (picture) up there on the wall, Ms. Sarah Duncan, and she had a restaurant when I was born. We had a lot of African American business owners during the time when I was born.”
Campbell runs the restaurant with her family members. Each day, they spend hours prepping. Everything is made from scratch from recipes passed down through generations.
“You know cooking is an art, but you got to have a passion for it ...,” Campbell said.
Matt Butler, the owner of Top 5ive Bar and Grill in Hattiesburg, was inspired by his mother and grandmother.
Butler says soul food is “a little different than going to Thanksgiving or some other Sunday dinner.”
“Grandma’s cooking brings everybody together to socialize and talk,” added Butler.
Butler opened his restaurant last year in hopes to bring soul food to the other side of Hattiesburg. He has a wife and three children and said that he enjoys bringing the soul food tradition to his children.
“My mom and grandmother grew up like that,” Butler said. “So, I would love to do that with my family as well. So, I love just sitting around eating and talking.”
Both Campbell and Butler said that they hope to continue bringing “soul” to the Pine Belt, one plate at a time.
“I would do it all over again If I had to do it again,” Campbell said.
“... I just hope that we’re still here and people still enjoying the food,” Butler said.
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