Above: New restaurant, Southern Flair City Twist, serves up some righteous tasting Southern and Caribbean food at a price families can afford. Shown above is their Gourmet Black Beans and Rice.
Photo by Abegail Davis
By Deborah M. Walker
Looking for a quality meal for any taste at an easy on the wallet price, then try Lansing’s newest restaurant Southern Flair City Twist. Located at 5920 S. Cedar Street in Lansing, Southern Flair City Twist is the local dining hot spot for lip smacking entrees and delectable deserts.
Prepared fresh daily, Southern Flair City Twist offers hard to find dishes and one-of-a-kind specialties like their flavorful jerk chicken says Andre Duane Davis, co-owner of Southern Flair City Twist. With his partner, Juliano Jean-Jules, the team cooks up mouth-watering treats the whole family can enjoy.
“We came on board with a concept that we wanted to do a different type of food rather than the burgers, rather than the traditional comfort foods. We took some Caribbean island dishes, some recipes that we gathered from the south, and we brought them together,” said Davis.
Southern Flair City Twist is more than a soul food restaurant. Specializing in Caribbean island dishes, comfort foods such as pineapple upside down cake and southern favorites like their signature chicken-on-a-stick, they provide a variety of hard to find menu items.
“You’d have to go clear to Brandon, Mississippi to find it [Chicken on a Stick] because that’s where I found the recipe for that,” said Davis.
Davis says he was inspired to open his own restaurant because of the demand for his food. Having a trial run beforehand helped to generate business and spark public interest in the restaurant.
“Chicken-on-a-Stick was one of the items everyone was asking about so we test drove it here in Lansing. Behind Pro Style barber shop we set a tent up and we cooked Chicken-on-a Stick and fish sandwiches and a couple of other items. It was successful and it paved the way for us to say okay we need our own building where we can do this on a regular basis,” said Davis.
Davis says getting started took some strategic planning but faith and perseverance made his dream possible. According to Davis, things simply fell into place.
“Just getting capital and having the right doors opening up, coming in contact with the right people and then just the Lord guiding you by his spirit that’s what did it for us,” said Davis.
For Southern Flair City Twist opening day was a spiritual event. To receive a blessing and ensure financial favor Davis and staff followed an old African American tradition and walked around the building 7 times, and before opening their doors for business shouted “good success.”
According to Davis running a successful restaurant requires a lot of energy and is highly demanding but the hard work definitely pays off.
“It takes a lot out of you,” said Davis. We’ve been open about 6 weeks now and between getting the building ready, because we did all the work in here ourselves; I haven’t had a day off. We finally decided to let Sunday go so now we get Sundays off, but we’ve only had 3 Sundays off since we’ve been open.”
Davis says it is important to advertise and to set money aside for advertisement. According to Davis, getting the word out is the most important aspect of running a successful restaurant.
“You can have great food, you can have good prices, but if people don’t know you’re there it doesn’t matter,” said Davis.
Serving unique dishes and offering a menu that is different from everyone else is how Davis says he expects business to grow.
“Don’t do what everybody else is doing,” said Davis. “Start off with the intention of doing it different. Our customer base right now assures us that as our name continues to grow our clientele list will grow. But the difference is we don’t do the other things that restaurants are doing. We don’t do the burgers. Can we do them? Sure we can. Can we do a whole lot of other things? Sure we can but we put a southern flair and a city twist on it.”
Do not call him a chef stated Davis. Cooking since the age of 8, Davis says he has never taken a cooking class, he simply follows family recipes. According to Davis, his love for cooking is what keeps him motivated.
“We didn’t have any sisters; my momma taught all us boys how to cook. I remember standing up in the kitchen at the stove on a chair and frying chicken and pork chops,” said Davis.
Davis says he visits other restaurants to get ideas. Davis has sought the advice of other restaurant owners and the expertise of his brother Timothy Davis, who has worked in the hospitality industry for over 20 years, bartending, serving food and catering he informed.
“But what I primarily rely on is when I go to other food establishments I look to see what they’re doing and rather or not it would be conducive to our own business to do the same thing. I also look for the things that they neglect to do,” said Davis.
Davis says he follows Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, strategy for success. Quality, service, cleanliness and value (QSCV) is the protocol that Southern Flair City Twist closely shadows.
“We don’t want our guests who are coming into our house to find anything offensive about it. We want them to be satisfied and QSCV helps us with that,” said Davis.
QSCV is not the only success model Davis follows. Davis says he believes affordability is key and in today’s economy it is important for families to enjoy a good meal at a fair price.
“As much as we enjoy cooking and seeing people satisfied with a good meal … the thing that makes us want to keep the prices affordable is that we understand the economic condition not of just black America here in the Lansing area but of all minorities,” said Davis.
“Some people cannot afford once a week to take their family out for a good meal and that’s why McDonald’s and Burger King are so successful. So we try to keep our prices where a person can enjoy the meal but at the same time they can walk home with some money in their pocket,” said Davis.
Not only is it important to keep prices low Davis says it is essential for Southern Flair City Twist to give back to the community as well. Every two weeks there is a $50 give away by Southern Flair City Twist. Davis says he believes in giving and the good Karma that giving creates.
“The $50 give away is our own way of saying thanks to our customers who come and patronize our business,” said Davis.
“My wife and I believe in sowing. We sow to our home church of course and then we’re sensitive in our spirit to see who the Lord would have us give to because when you give to the poor you lend to the Lord. That what you have given the Lord will repay,” said Davis.
In the future Davis says Southern Flair City Twist will be a great place for people to come and showcase their neighborhood talents. According to Davis Southern Flair City Twist plans on adding an open microphone and an electric piano for those who would like to come and show off their musical skills.
“If people just want to sing to a track of music that have or if they have somebody that will accompany them on the piano yeah we want to showcase some of that talent,” Davis said.
For more information contact Southern Flair City Twist at (517) 394-7328 or stop by 5920 S. Cedar Street in Lansing MI, 48911.
This article was printed in the November 2, 2014 – November 15, 2014 edition.