‘Love’ is main ingredient at Lee’s Soul Food & Catering

  • Sharing their love of food and family at Lee’s Soul Food & Catering are (front, left to right) Monica Lee, Nancy Odom, Bernice Lee Young, Tina Oestricher, (back, left to right) Enterick Lee and Patrick Young.

Sometimes food is all about the love.

It’s the love of family, friends and a passion for cooking.

All that can be found at Lee’s Soul Food & Catering, a family owned and operated restaurant that has been open for just over two months in Barnwell.

A sign on the wall states “Love is the best ingredient” and is the motto behind the Lee/Young family’s efforts.

Not only does the menu offer traditional “soul” food of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, collard greens and field peas (just to name a few), the Lee family also seeks to offer “food for the soul”.

“There is nothing like the taste of home-cooked food, kind of like your grandmother’s cooking,” said Bernice Lee Young, mother and head cook. “It gives you happiness.”

Bernice has always loved to cook. “When other kids were outside playing, I was in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother. It is my passion. I always knew I wanted to open a restaurant.

The Aiken resident has spent the last 14 years as a wedding cake decorator but always dreamed of opening a restaurant. “I believe that God puts your life where it needs to be. I thought I had an opportunity to open a place in Aiken but it wasn’t the right time. This place, this time is when it was supposed to happen,” she said.

The benefactors of her cooking and love are her family who each became a team member in the business. Daughter Monica Lee specializes in salads, son Enterick Lee helps on the business end, husband Patrick Young laughingly says he serves great iced tea and lemonade but is also Bernice’s biggest fan. “Whatever she needs, we do,” he said.

“We all understand one another,” said Patrick. “Each of us brings our strength to the business.”

Monica has worked as a tax preparer and is a bartender but also has inherited her mother’s passion for cooking. Enterick works at Bridgestone and also owns Shine Time Car Wash in Barnwell. Patrick is a union boilermaker at Plant Vogtle. All share in the love and ownership of the business and help with the catering side of it.

Also helping customers are Nancy Odom, who is Bernice’s niece, and employee Tina Oestricher.

The newly-renovated restaurant is located at 539 Allen Street in Barnwell. It is open on Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

While there is seating for 20 people inside, Lee’s Soul Food also has a brisk take-out business. “Sunday is our best day – we’ve had people lined up outside already,” said Bernice. To order a take-out meal, call (803) 571-6261. Their contact information can also be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/leefood4soul.

Each family member has their favorite on the menu with daily specials on the buffet – turkey wings, meatloaf, fried chicken, cabbage, candy yams and corn. On Sunday there is roast or oxtails. For those who like to eat lighter, there is chef salad and grilled or fried chicken salads. For dessert, there is banana pudding, cheesecake bars and Patrick’s favorite – peach cobbler.

In addition to the regular restaurant offerings, the family also caters events or provides half and long-pans of items. Just call the restaurant to book an event or order the pan servings.

And when you put your fork down, the family wants you to “feel the love” down to your soul, said Bernice. “We have food for your soul.”