ANDERSON – Bright-colored pennants announced the grand opening of Rebecca’s Soul Food Diner last week. The new eatery is the inspiration and dream come true of lifelong Anderson resident Mary Jane Shell.
“It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. It’s all I like to do – cook,” said Shell, 56. “Cook, and let people eat my cooking, see what they think.”
Just like the name announces, look for soul food on the menu. Shell said that among the offerings diners will find selections like “collard greens, beans, black-eyed peas, chicken wings – a little bit of everything.”
“I love cooking. It’s the gift that God gave me, I guess,” said Shell.
The diner is named for Shell’s mother, Rebecca Perry. Shell credits her late mom with passing her love of the kitchen on to her daughter. Shell, in turn, passed the cooking passion on to her granddaughter, Perazha Porter, who is helping out with the restaurant.
Shell’s husband, Louis, 71, was out stringing the grand opening pennants on Thursday before taking a turn in the kitchen.
“We used to fuss about who was going to cook,” said Shell. Another thing the couple has in common? “He loves people and I do, too.”
Shell said that she and Louis have been together about 30 years, but finally tied the knot in 2009, when Shell catered her own wedding.
“We just said what the heck,” said Shell. “Might as well, he wasn’t going anywhere and I wasn’t getting rid of him.”
Both Shell and her husband are tackling the restaurant business in the wake of other personal challenges. Shell has faced down five heart attacks. Louis had lung cancer. “He beat it, thank God,” said Shell.
Other family members are helping out with the venture as well. Although last week marked the grand opening, Shell said Rebecca’s Soul Food Diner has been open for about five months.