Home cooked soul food is no longer only a treat for those living down South. Delicious home-cooked meals with real Southern flavor can now be found right here in Grand Rapids. The Candied Yam in Grand Rapids has been serving up this delightful Southern style cuisine since January, and the popular eatery has garnered dozens of 5-star reviews on sites like Yelp and Google along the way.
Owners Jermone Glenn and Jessica Ann Tyson had the vision to bring delightful Southern cuisine to an area that had not been readily available prior to opening of The Candied Yam on 44th St. in Grand Rapids. “Our goal was to create an environment where food would bring ALL in the community – white, black, or whomever together where people could enjoy Southern food made with love in a warm and hospitable place,” says Jessica Ann.
The Candied Yam was the partner’s first business venture with neither having previous experience in operating a restaurant. Their vision became a reality when the two pooled their family savings to get the business up and running. The business pair readily admits that they have had their share of challenges along the way. “We never knew everything it took to open, operate, and run this place”, says Jermone, “but we are committed to making our vision work.”
From the moment customers enter The Candied Yam, they sense an inviting and unique atmosphere. Seating is done at old-fashioned picnic tables, just the type of interior that promotes and encourages a warm and welcoming “family get-together” type of environment.
Jessica Ann remembers one incident that aligned with the business vision of bringing people together – “I specifically remember one busy lunch hour when our restaurant had no available seating. Two Caucasian women (in their 70’s) made one open seat for a young Black male in his 20’s to sit in. I went to check to see if everyone was enjoying their meal and when I arrived at that table, all I heard was laughter and was met with a sincere ‘thank you’ from all for delightful unexpected lunch company. It was at that moment that I knew that what we created could work well!”
Both Jermone and Jessica Ann keep a steady pulse on the business, with the latter of the two staying very involved in day to day operations. She can be found **quite often chatting with customers, wiping down tables, or in the kitchen baking cobbler. Other family members are not far behind. Her teenage daughter Caitlyn can be found manning the cash register on weekends, and her nephews Todd and Tyler washing dishes, hauling trash, and baking their signature sweet potato muffins.
The Candied Yam menu is quite extensive, and dishes are reasonably priced. There is something for every taste – country fried chicken, smothered pork chops, fried catfish, meatloaf, black-eyed peas, greens with smoked turkey and even vegetarian options. Signature items include tasty fares such as soul food wraps, sweet potato cornbread muffins, and down-home style desserts. Customer favorites are the mouth-watering Catfish, delicious Mac ‘N Cheese, and of course the candied yams!
Where do the owners see the business in 5 years? 10? 25? “We take one day at a time,” Jermone says, “but ultimately we would like to see our business vision expand to multiple locations across the country, thereby bringing many different communities and people together through our food.”
The Candied Yam is located at 2305 44th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49508 and is open Tuesday-Sunday from 11 :30 am-7:00 pm. Call-in orders are welcome. Delivery and catering is available as well. For more information, call 616-551-3509.