THE DISH: Forever Family Soul Food | Food & Drink

Forever Family Soul Food


1820 North Brown Road Suite 60, Lawrenceville GA, 30043

Owners: Mother of two Janika Jackson is the sole owner this feel-good, family restaurant. She left her life in corporate America to start Forever Family Soul Food, a concept that her kids helped create.

“My son named it, “ said Jackson who decided on the name six years before she opened the restaurant. “It was originally Family Forever but, I thought, ‘What about Forever Family?”

Open Since: The restaurant opened May 24, 2017, but Jackson envisioned the concept years before. Between driving her sons to football practice and working full time, Jackson had to delay the dream, but she never let it die.

Doors are open from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m on Tuesday through Saturday and from noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday. The restaurant is closed on Monday.

Lunch is from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner is served from 3 p.m. until closing.

Location: The restaurant is located in a shopping strip adjacent to the Sugarloaf Mills mall.

Jackson saw there was a need for restaurants where families could feed their children real meals and she wanted to fill that need.

“I knew the location that I wanted,” Jackson said. “I wanted to be near where parents take their kids to sports.”

Atmosphere: Forever Family Soul Food puts a modern twist on traditional southern recipes, taking Grandma’s kitchen up a notch without losing family values.

Everything about the small diner is personal to its owner. When she signed the lease, Jackson had the interior entirely remodeled, and she handpicked every detail, down to last tile.

A mural of a family tree shows Jackson’s strong family values. It stands in memory of her nephew who recently passed away, and she painted the walls red, his favorite color.

Jackson wants everyone who walks through her doors to feel like family.

Customers can expect to be greeted with smiles when they order at the counter because Jackson puts people above speed. She considers all of her employees and even customers family.

“It’s so much bigger than this restaurant, it’s so much bigger than the food,” Jackson said. “ I am feeding people, and that’s why we have to have that foundation of love.”

Jackson wanted people to feel like they stepped into their Grandma’s kitchen but it doesn’t look that way. The place has a sleek interior with modern architecture and high-set tables.

Professionals frequent the place on weekdays during lunch, but it gets busiest on Thursdays and into the weekend. Lunch and dinner are also busy on Sunday when many families stop by after church. That’s when Jackson plays gospel tunes, but throughout the week, she plays just about every kind of music, except rap.

Jackson wants her business to have a wholesome atmosphere and she is passionate about her faith.

“I say a prayer before I open the door. People coming in, love going out.”

On the Menu: Jackson added her own spin to soul food, but she was careful to preserve the flavors that everyone remembers.

Forever Family Soul Food aims to please. Jackson conducted several surveys before she opened to see what traditional soul food really is. She even did a food tasting party to find what items would be popular.

The turkey wings are a customer favorite. These pieces are big, juicy and seasoned with the house recipe so that chicken takes the lower seat as the second favorite poultry dish. The turkey meatloaf is also available and is a healthy alternative from the beef recipe.

There is a wait time of 10 minutes for the fried chicken wings. Made fresh, the item is served piping hot and is worth the wait.

Those who have an appetite won’t be disappointed because a meal features two big pieces of meat or fish, two sides and a piece of cornbread.

Fried catfish, a side of potato salad and macaroni and cheese and an Arnold Palmer to drink is Jackson’s ideal lunch meal. The catfish is hands down the most popular entree, she said, but customers can choose tilapia and whiting if they prefer.

Something you might not know: One thing that Forever Family Soul Food does differently is the veggies — collards, green beans, corn and others. Starting at $2.50, veggie plates and sides can be ordered separately and are less greasy than traditional southern recipes since they are cooked without pork.

“Soul food isn’t considered really healthy food, so I am trying to make it a little healthier,” Jackson said.

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THE DISH: Forever Family Soul Food | Food & Drink

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