Local soul food cook in business at former Colonial

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Chuck Hall cooks up an order of stir-fried shrimp at Best Food Inn, Wednesday. The restaurant opened the day before at the former Colonial Restaurant.

Exterior of Best Food Inn.JPG

By William F. West
Staff Writer

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Last Wednesday, Chuck Hall was cooking up a tantalizing helping of stir-fried shrimp — creating a powerful, hunger-generating aroma. 

Formerly specializing in soul food, Hall is back in the restaurant business at the new Best Food Inn downtown. The business is located at the site of the former Colonial Restaurant, on the northwest corner of East Colonial Avenue and North McMorrine Street.

Hall had been working as a car salesman locally before opening Best Food Inn on Tuesday. But when he wasn't selling cars, he was still cooking meals on the side.

"I've got a pretty decent following – and a lot of people have been trying to get me to sell plates on my day off," Hall said. "They're just constantly asking me about the food, which is appreciated."

At Best Food Inn, Hall said with a smile, "We're doing a lot of take-out business."

Hall said he's mainly seeking to appeal to lunchtime and dinner customers on weekdays, as well as dinner customers on Sundays.

"We'll do catering," he also said. "We've already picked up a couple of jobs."

Hall’s menu includes burgers, chicken tenders, chicken wings, sandwiches and seafood, but he said since opening Best Food Inn, popular requests so far are for the stir-fried shrimp, as well as gizzards and yock.

Asked what's the secret to preparing good soul food, Hall said, "Take your time and do it right."

Hall also has plans for offering Indian food, including Indian-style curry.

Hall's partner in this venture is local businessman Nick Patel. "He decided that he wanted to go into restaurants – and we were conversating for a while," Hall said.

Hall and Patel found out about the Colonial, which closed this past summer, and decided to approach one of the landlords and speak to him.

"He wants somebody in the building that's going to stay," Hall said. "So, after we negotiated for a while, we decided to go ahead and give it a shot."

Hall, who said he’s in it for the long term, likes the strategic location in the heart of the Harbor of Hospitality.

"The location is pretty good, but more importantly, to me, is the setup," he said. "It's a nice-sized kitchen."

In fact, he said he didn't know until he entered the kitchen how large the space is.

Hall said business has been steady since he opened last week with about eight employees. 

He has an extensive résumé in the food service business, which includes operating Chuck's Soul Food Café a few years ago, off Herrington Road adjacent to Elizabeth City State University's Roebuck Stadium.

His career dates back to the 1970s, when his family had a restaurant near Rutgers University in New Jersey. He began managing restaurants in his late teens, with his career taking him to California and Connecticut.

He has been in northeastern North Carolina for a long time, too, having once worked as a sous chef at Duck Woods Country Club on the Outer Banks. He also worked at the former Topside Restaurant in Camden County, at the former Water’s Edge Grill on the Camden Causeway and at City Grille off South Hughes Boulevard.

Restaurant hours are from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on Fridays, noon-10 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sundays. 

The restaurant can be reached by phone at 562-6043.