Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for NYCWFF

I’ve lived in Gastonia most of my life and it’s awesome how the city is growing. Despite the pandemic, there are so many new restaurants opening here. One of the restaurants that’s relatively new is Smith’s Soul Food Bistro. It’s very close to my house, however I haven’t tried the food yet!  Folks rave about it online and tonight the restaurant is getting some help from “Restaurant: Impossible” on the Food Network. Cool!

This restaurant is very different from others. Smith’s Soul Food Bistro not only serves yummy comfort food, but they also help the community. Owner Cheryl Littlejohn is an ex-basketball coach on a mission to help kids find their purpose through working at her restaurant. She envisions a kind of training regimen in partnership with the Salvation Army where workers would commit to a six-month program, learn and polish basic life skills and learn the ins-and-outs of the restaurant trade.

According to the Gaston Gazette, Littlejohn co-owns the bistro with Mario Nichols and launched Legacy Event Center next door some 18-months ago. A former Hunter Huss High School basketball standout, Littlejohn earned her stripes as a role player for legendary former Lady Vols Head Coach Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee. Nichols, the former co-owner at hometown favorite Grits N Greens Southern Cuisine in Lowell, is the head chef at the restaurant.

But since opening in 2021, the restaurant has had some struggles. And that’s where Chef Robert Irvine comes into play. In tonight’s episode of “Restaurant: Impossible”, Irvine must teach Cheryl to run her restaurant with the discipline she learned on the court or risk leaving a lot of kids out in the cold. You can watch the show on the Food Network, tonight at 8 p.m.

I must get over to the restaurant and try the food! I’ve heard nothing but good things! Hopefully the exposure on the Food Network will help this gem thrive in my hometown!  If you watch the sneek peek below, you’ll get chills. I did! I love the determination and heart behind this place! Love it!


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