A Church Hill-based caterer is headed for new digs up the street that will allow it to become more of a restaurant.
Soul N’ Vinegar plans to relocate to 2910 Q St. in Church Hill sometime this year, owner Michelle Parrish said this week, taking it about a block from its original location at 2832 R St.
It will fill out the commercial piece of a mixed-use development by Daniil Kleyman at the corner of Q and North 30th streets that features 13 apartments. The new location is about 1,200 square feet, making it about twice as large as Soul N’ Vinegar’s current spot.
Parrish said she expects to be able to seat about 30 people in her new space, and that ever since opening at her current location in 2018 she had planned to eventually move into a larger space.
“I looked at the spot we’re in now as the experiment, the tester,” she said. “It was the plan to move into a place one day that was bigger and had (more) seating.”
Soul N’ Vinegar plans to lean more heavily into a restaurant experience at the new Q Street space though it doesn’t plan to offer table service. The new spot will feature breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings in line with Soul N’ Vinegar’s traditional diverse mix of cuisines that includes soul food. The restaurant is expected to serve menu items like coffee, sandwiches and rice bowls.
“It’s meant to be a place where people can use it in different ways,” Parrish said. “It’ll be similar to a fast-casual place in terms of having stuff you don’t have to wait a long time to get and that’s relatively affordable.”
Soul N’ Vinegar’s current location on R Street isn’t currently open to the public, though it has offered limited seating in the past, and is being used only to support catering operations.
Parrish said she signed the lease with Kleyman in mid-2021 but pandemic-related construction challenges like labor shortages and waiting on permits have kept the plans on the backburner until recently.
Parrish said she and the landlord are splitting the costs of the space’s buildout and that a final figure on the investment hasn’t been determined yet.
The impending move comes after Soul N’ Vinegar’s catering side of business has improved in recent months after dropping off during the pandemic. Soul N’ Vinegar pivoted for a time to an emphasis on takeout meals during the pandemic. She said the pandemic ushered in a trend toward smaller events.
“People weren’t having big catering events, which was the most profitable part of the business. People still need catering, we just have to make it COVID-friendly,” she said. “Our catering has still been busy and it’s mostly the clients who were with us before COVID and we changed to accommodate what people needed.”
Soul N’ Vinegar no longer operates the cafe at VCU’s Institute for Contemporary Art, a gig it first took on in late 2019. After catering took a hit during the pandemic, the decision was made to step away after the contract expired in late 2021.
“A lot of the reason we went in was because we did the events,” Parrish said, noting that Soul N’ Vinegar continues to work with ICA. “When COVID happened, and events disappeared, from a financial point of view we couldn’t take the risk.”