7th City the place to visit

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 29, 2005

I was very impressed when I first met Quentin Barnes and his family about two years ago when Hurricane Isabel did damage to my home and they repaired it. He arrived with most of his family that included his father, four brothers and one sister. I later learned that contractors and plumbers were included in this group.

I was soon faced with another impressive moment. I had almost given up on good soul food that included collard greens since Terrence Britt’s death until another friend referred me to try the 7th City Restaurant and Sports Lounge located in the White Marsh Road Plaza.

I visited the restaurant on April 14 and am glad that I did. The food was delicious. I was surprised to learn that the restaurant is also owned by Quentin Barnes and his family, which actually includes 12 other siblings. The renovated building was so extravagant that I couldn’t imagine that it once was a Rite Aid Pharmacy. Barnes told me then that he and his family did almost all of the remodeling and added that one of his biggest lifelong dreams was to own a sports lounge and restaurant.

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&uot;To me, Suffolk has always been a blue collar kind of town,&uot; he said, &uot;and now with an expanding city, I thought it would be an extra opportunity to start this business. I want this to be the best business in Suffolk and to be able to provide a safe, wholesome and relaxed environment where people can go to let their hair down and eat good food in Texas portions.&uot;

For guests’ safety inside and outside the building Barnes has hired the Security Company of Ken Tate of Tate Enterprises. The company employs eight guards. Tate was previously in the Army and worked for the State Police.

Barnes also said that he wanted to make the building a meeting place for church, social, civic league groups, and a place for family and school reunions.

Presently, 25 family members are employed and Barnes said that since he is a native of Suffolk and may need more help, he wants to focus on hiring Suffolk people in addition to family members.

I had heard many negative things about this restaurant especially about a fight that had broken out in the parking lot at the time of the grand opening, but Barnes reassured me that the fight was not related to his club.

At that time I decided that I would support a Love Dance Show that was scheduled to be held on Sunday, April 17, which featured Bobby Jay with his team of performers, ET and the Norfolk Temptations.

On show night I arrived about 8:30 p.m. with friends and parked under a

light pole that gave sufficient light. False rumor number one – I had heard that the location would be completely dark. When we walked into the door, ET was already playing oldies but goodies and later he began to play my favorite-line dance music-to get the crowd up on the floor.

Jay later arrived true to his word as advertised, passing out roses and jewelry to females. The Norfolk Temptations did a 45-minute show beginning at 10:15 p.m. I enjoyed the show and after their performance, Jay took over the job as DJ for the remainder of the evening.

Everything was very orderly and my party left about 12:30 a.m. after experiencing a fun evening. The next day I took a survey of the show and learned that about 110 people in the age range of 35 and over were in attendance.

The restaurant now has a variety of events that will take place on a weekly basis:

-Tuesday, Open Mic Night -People can get up and say or sing anything they want.

-Wednesday, Poetry Night-People can create their own poetry and then read it. Barnes said that prizes of $25 are presented to the winner until the event gets bigger.

-Thursday, Karaoke Night-Barnes said this event is really growing.

-Friday and Saturday-Dancing and Disco with Shortcut serving as DJ.

-Sunday, Relax and Rewind Night, (R&R)- A DJ will play oldies but goodies as Jay and ET did on April 17. On May 8, Mothers’ Day and every two weeks following, Jay, ET and Miss Ding-a-ling will be special guests. Jay will bring other performers during that period including The Norfolk Temptations and a singer whose voice resembles that of Otis Redding.

Barnes is also planning to start a Sunday Brunch and jazz event for the after church crowd.

Food is served from Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. and on Sundays serving begins at 3 p.m to midnight. Food specials are served on Open Mic and Karoake nights.

Barnes said that the jury is still out on how successful they will be, but he is not a fly-by-night person and is not going to run a fly-by-night restaurant.

What he has going for him now is that this is the only eatery in town that is offering a variety of events on a weekly basis.

Evelyn Wall is a former News-Herald reporter and regular columnist.