Le Culture Owner Drew Matthews Jr. prepares meal. The succulent, savory taste of soul food like lamb chops is one of the many offerings at this establishment.
Le Culture, which was opened by Detroit native Drew Matthews Jr., is welcoming a new restaurant to the fold. Continuing the rich tradition of not only the culture and legacy of Detroit but also the role soul food plays in the Black community, the self-taught chef has launched Culture Soul Southern Eatery where he plans to dish out even more great flavors while continuing to build an empire of more than just good eats.
The pandemic forced many businesses and their owners to pivot and adapt to a new world fostered by social distancing measures. In response, Matthews opened Culture Soul. Like its sister restaurant, Culture Soul Southern Eatery brings a heightened level of soul food to the mainstream. Located in the city’s Five Points area, Culture Soul will serve customers through takeout and delivery as the owner believes the pandemic has shifted traditional dining.
“I was to open Culture Soul in 2020 right before the pandemic came. I actually just put it on the back burner when the pandemic came…. I decided to just put Culture Soul on the back burner and now, two years later, I decided to just change up the concept and transition to takeout only,” said Matthews.
Choosing to operate a full-scale carry-out restaurant was in response to the still relevant fears of diners, which is causing restaurant owners to modify their services while offering the same great tastes.
“I still look at going out to eat as my thing, but a lot of people, a lot of older people, are scared still. Things are loosening up, people are vaccinated and things like that, but they’re still scared. A lot of people are. I don’t think we’ll get back to pre-pandemic [activities] for years. I don’t think the restaurant business will be back [to] pre-pandemic,” said Matthews.
Like many restaurants forced to shut down in the past two years, Matthews made the decision to temporarily close the doors to the iconic Le Culture eatery. According to Fortune, more than 100,000 restaurants and drinking establishments shut down, both permanently and temporarily, as a result of the pandemic. With more than two million jobs lost, the ripples of economic impact were felt by all. Now, as the world attempts to establish a new normal, business owners are cautiously optimistic about moving forward.
The pandemic also inspired many to get active and take a healthier approach to diet and dining. Choosing to go dairy-free, vegetarian or embrace other dietary modifications, the pandemic has created a new wave of healthy eating encouraging restaurant owners to follow suit.
“I have a non-pork menu. I use higher quality stuff than your average soul food place uses,” said Matthews. “I cook a few different dishes with no animal products at all. I have that for people who are vegetarian.”
Foodies will still be able to order traditional dishes such as Pot Roast, Catfish, Seafood Overload Mac & Cheese, Chicken and Lobster Mamba Pasta and more. Matthews also hopes to help revitalize the community with the opening of Culture Soul and provide economic opportunities for his employees. He also hopes to expand the brand into other markets to continue making an impact on urban communities.
“We’re already looking at two different locations in two different cities. We’re pretty much going to expand and run with this concept. The concept, I feel like is more bulletproof for the times that we are in. I’m running with that right now,” said Matthews.
Launched in 2018, Le Culture became an instant hit providing upscale dining in the heart of downtown Detroit. Though the business has now closed its doors on the downtown location, plans to revamp and reopen are on the horizon for 2023.
“I want to provide quality meals in the hood other than Coney Island and things of that nature. There’re not too many places that offer the quality that we offer, for us by us,” he said. “I don’t use any frozen stuff, everything is fresh. We have Amish chicken, even Halal chicken. The seafood is fresh, everything is from scratch in our kitchen.”
Culture Soul Southern Eatery is located at 24737 W. Eight Mile in Detroit. Culture Soul is available for delivery, walk-in orders and carry-out orders only.