Old-Fashioned Tradition Reigns Supreme at Sally Bell’s Kitchen in Virginia

We all know that childhood feeling of comfort food; the food that only comes from Grandma’s stove and oven — food that’s cooked with love. With cultural normalities changing daily at the speed of light, this slower way of life seems to be dying out, making traditionalists and down-home sweethearts cringe.

Then there was Sally Bell’s Kitchen in Richmond, Virginia. Known for their hometime appeal and family-run traditions, the people of Richmond consider this a classic fix for the down-home cookin’ that’s strikingly similar to that of your grandmothers.

Boxed Lunch: Sally Bell's Kitchen from Christophile Konstas on Vimeo.

The mere fact that this joint is open 365 days a year, seven days a week is a site to be seen. These days, restaurants either close early, on random days of the week, or are shut down for the holidays. Those are all very valid reasons, but none are excusable enough for those behind Sally Bell’s Kitchen.

With an opening time of 8 a.m., you can expect to see people waiting outside for opening, hoping to get the first ticket for their cult classic: homemade potato salad.

Sally Bell’s isn’t just about the potato salad, though. This family ran and operated joint opened it’s doors in Richmond in 1924 by Sarah Cabell Jones and Elizabeth Lee, which was a revolutionary and bold move for two women to open and run a business in that period of time. Lucky for them, it became a Richmond classic—and quickly.

The two made goodies and savory box meals from scratch, inviting a sense of home-cooking out of the four walls of one’s physical home. Since then, Scott and Martha Jones have taken over ownership and management, but not much else has changed. As was described in this Vimeo video by a customer, visiting Sally Bell’s Kitchen is, “like going to your grandma’s house”.  Ah…the childhood memories associated with that statement is enough to send anyone running to, and then waiting in, the line. 

Desiree Thompson, the main culprit in the kitchen, and her son William “Billy” Thompson are responsible for ensuring the people get what they came for: all things, all homemade. Even the dressings and spreads are made from scratch in house.

According to Jones, people have actually cried because they weren’t able to get what they came in for due to it’s lack of existence for the remainder of the day. Just because doors open at 8 a.m., don’t expect to walk in, line free, and get your potato salad and cupcake fix (their top-sell are the chocolate mocha and chocolate yellow matter).

Here, it’s tradition. Here, it’s about a box lunch with five ingredients in each box, every time. Here, it’s about family, hard work, and happiness.

Richmond Magazine
Richmond Magazine

According to Richmond Magazine, Sally Bell’s Kitchen has relocated and is fully functioning at a new location, but the traditions, style of cooking, and family-first attitude will stay the same.

Whether you’re passing through as a tourist destination or on your weekly regular run to Sally Bell’s, you sure won’t leave disappointed.

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