MUSKEGON, Mich. — Typically at Soul Filled Eatery on Glade Street, customers walk into the restaurant and order a slew of their famous meals from shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, to deep-fried catfish. However, this week, the specialty is collard greens, ranch-fried chicken wings, five-cheese Mac-n-Cheese, jalapeno cornbread and turkey knuckles.
“Our turkey knuckles, the whole world needs to know about,” said owner LaKisha Harris with a smile during an interview with FOX 17 last week. “They need to know it in Spain. They need to know it in Japan. They need to know in Muskegon you can get a turkey knuckle.”
Harris said it’s simply the thigh meat around a turkey’s knuckles, which they cook and top with barbecue sauce. This week customers can get it for a special price for Lakeshore Restaurant Week.
“I’m so excited,” Harris sang. “And the reason for that is that we are a small business. We’ve been here six months. So, when you see IHOP and you see Mylans and you see all the bigger restaurants it became a little bit intimidating. But, I’m excited because I feel like we have something to offer. We have something that can put the Lakeshore on the map.”
Soul Filled Eatery and Mylans are two of the 14 places participating in the 2021 restaurant week. Organizer Rich Berry said they did it last year and it was a huge success.
“It’s really just a way that we want to get restaurants to do things a little bit differently, to showcase some of the things that they do that they don’t always do everyday of the week, or they don’t have on their menu. We did it last year. It was right before COVID. We did it in February,” Berry said during a Zoom interview last week. “Then, the world stopped two weeks later.”
When the pandemic broke out, restaurants closed and the industry took a hard hit financially. Many restaurants closed, while others struggled to stay open, like Soul Filled Eatery.
“It’s still hard because still after meeting payroll, after buying food, I’ve been here six months, I don’t have a paycheck you know,” said Harris, who’s from Muskegon. “People see you on the media, they see you on Facebook and they think you made it. Everyday I show up in faith.”
This year, they planned to do it again, Berry said. However, they didn’t know when. But as the weather got warmer and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer expanded indoor dining to 50 percent, they decided to do it sooner rather than later.
“I certainly have missed going out, and I know that everybody I know all my friends and acquaintances miss going out,” said Berry, the director of sales at Cumulus Media Muskegon. “It’s just a way to bond with someone, to eat with them and to not be able to have the opportunity to do that, take out is great but it’s not quite the same thing.”
Soul Filled Eatery isn’t a dine-in location, but their front door is always opening with customers lining up for their southern cuisine, which Harris has been cooking for years.
“Sixty percent of the experience is my food. Forty percent is the hugs, is the love, is remembering your name, is remembering your birthday,” Harris said. “So, we’ve been able to flourish because of that.”
Even though Harris hasn’t been giving too many hugs lately due to COVID-19, she hopes everyone — familiar faces and new ones — will stop by and get their turkey knuckles and then head to the other places participating in restaurant week before it ends on March 27.
“Muskegon has some great food. We have some great chefs. And we have probably been the best kept secret,” Harris said while smiling. “I’m here to come out and tell everybody that we have something good going on here, not just at Soul Filled Eatery but in the city of Muskegon. We’re bringing back that pride. Definitely.”
***For a list of restaurants participating in Lakeshore Restaurant Week, click here.***