Food for the soul

Maggie and Cleveland Richards, owners of Richard’s Chicken, Fish and More, pride themselves on being a family-owned restaurant.

The couple has been married for twelve years; about the same time this soul food duo has been cooking. We asked Cleveland Richards what made him want to sell country-style soul food? He answered light-heartedly saying, “Chicken and fish just popped in my head!”

I had never heard of Richards until a friend of mine told me about it. He described it as this cute little place off of Wahnish Way that had great catfish!

When I walked in the door I was greeted with warm smiles and the smell of freshly cooked food. I felt like I was back home in Pompano at my granny’s house. I felt comfortable and safe. This nostalgic feeling has been here for years according to the restaurant owners.

“We’ve only been here for two years but this place has been here for decades,” Maggie said. “It used to be called Ma Mary’s. It was a soul food diner too.”

Cleveland Richards, co-owner of the diner, said he does all the cooking.

“I fry the fish and chicken, I cook all the food and sometimes I make pies,” Cleveland said. “My wife bakes cakes and I make pies but sometimes we switch. She may do pies and I may do cakes.” Maggie Richards said that they get a lot of customers that are Florida A&M students and faculty, and even some Florida State faculty and a lot of Tallahassee natives.

Among the customers’ favorite dishes are macaroni and cheese, fried catfish, rib tips, and the home-style fried chicken. Richard’s also serve breakfast. Their savory buttered grits, crispy bacon, eggs, corn beef, and biscuits are a southern tradition.

The conversation with the happy owners turned into talk about another family member who is very familiar with good food- the couple’s twelve-year-old daughter.

“Every time we go out [somewhere other than Richards] to eat she always compares their food to mine,” Cleveland said. “She always says that nobody’s food is better than her daddy’s food!”

The sixth grader is planning to be a Rattler one day. This news is like music to her father’s ear. “She has been wanting to be a Rattler ever since I can remember,” Cleveland added. “I’m glad because she will be close to home.”

“A lot of people don’t know we’re this far down the street,” Cleveland said.

Richard’s Chicken, Fish and More is located on Eugenia St. right off of Wahnish Way next to Hillside Apartments. For more information contact 850-561-3474.