Roxbury’s Dudley Square is on the verge of a restaurant revival, as the Bay State Banner reported last December, describing four new restaurants in the works. Now, that revival is coming to fruition with one of the restaurants already open and another just weeks away from its debut.
Cheryl Straughter, former owner of popular restaurant Keith’s Place in Grove Hall, told Eater that her latest venture, Soleil, is set to open by the end of May. It will occupy the space left vacant when Tasty Burger shuttered (Bruce Bolling Municipal Building, 2200 Washington St.).
“We’re making progress every day,” said Straughter, who along with opening Soleil sits on the advisory council with Future Chefs, an organization that uses the culinary arts to teach high school students lessons they can use in any professional field. “The sign went up last week, so now my granddaughter’s face is sitting in Dudley.” (Soleil is Straughter’s granddaughter’s middle name, and the sign is an artist’s rendering of her face.)
Soleil’s cuisine takes influence from Southern cooking, albeit a lighter version, Straughter told Eater.
“We’ll have mac and cheese and collards, but there will also be lighter fare,” she said. “We’ll also have some funky sandwich combinations with homemade compotes and aioli. Everything will be made from scratch in-house.”
Straughter was able to salvage some of the materials left over when Tasty Burger closed: Soleil’s bar is made from the wood used for Tasty Burger’s benches.
“There were great bones left over to work with in the space,” said Straughter. “We just made the space a little warmer.”
“Soleil is French for ‘sun,’” continued Straughter. “It’s a tribute to my granddaughter, but it’s also a metaphor for Roxbury, and more specifically Dudley. People don’t see it as a warm, bright, vibrant place to open a business. Our goal is to crush that notion.”
Soleil will be counter-service for breakfast and lunch, and it will transform into a full-service restaurant for dinner and weekend brunch. The plan is to be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday (just brunch).
As Soleil approaches an opening date, stay tuned for updates on Dudley Square’s other forthcoming restaurants as well: A pizza shop called 119 will open soon in the former Dudley Dough space, also in the Bolling Building, and one other unnamed restaurant featuring live music could also go into the same building. Meanwhile, steps away, an Ethiopian restaurant called Fasika Cafe opened at 51 Roxbury St. in mid-March, a casual extension of owner Befekadu Defar’s Fasika restaurant in Somerville. Elsewhere in Roxbury, Backlash Beer Co. is set to open its brewery and taproom imminently at 152 Hampden St.
• Dudley Restaurant Revival [BSB]