Soul food is a family affair for Gilliam sisters

Yashica Gilliam, left, and Sheree Gilliam. Photo courtesy: Yashica Gilliam

Gilliam Sisters Soul Food restaurant on West Tharpe Street has quickly become a staple in the local food scene.

Growing up, Yashica Gilliam and her sister Sheree Gilliam were always in the kitchen with their mother and grandmothers, who were amazing cooks who taught them everything they knew. Gilliam Sisters Soul Food opened on Jan. 28, but this isn’t their first rodeo. In 2021, the sisters opened their first restaurant called Sassy’s Place on Macomb Street in Frenchtown.

Those who come to this home-felt restaurant know they will receive every plate full of love. Simone Washington loves her some soul food. “I stopped in during FAMU’s homecoming so there was a bit of a crowd, but the food was worth the wait,” she said.

She also adds her regret of not being quick with her camera.

“I’m a little ashamed to say that I didn’t get a single picture because I tore that food quickly,” Washington said. “I can’t remember which ‘sister’ waited on us that day, but she was so hospitable. It Added to that Southern charm that restaurant naturally has.”

Walking into the kitchen you can feel the love and joy within the building and it might have something to do with the fact that Yashica and Sheree work with their family.  Yashica enjoys working with her family and says it is always a great choice to have your family with you in all of your endeavors.

“I chose my family because I believe that in order to create an authentic atmosphere of home it helps to start with a replica of my home,” Yashica said. “I also chose family because family is the nucleus of all things successful. There’s a level of support and dedication that comes from working among family that’s oftentimes absent from a job surrounded by strangers. There’s also the chemistry in the flow of the business that comes from working with family, because we are family, we execute tasks with precision and that’s necessary for producing authentic soul food.”

“Special recipes that have been kept in the family can stay that way because you are among family,” she added. “We all know the tastes that we grew up with, and even if someone hasn’t mastered how to produce it, you know what the finished product is supposed to be. Running a business also requires great sacrifice and even understanding. Running a business with family allows flexibility and a support system that’s willing to do whatever to make sure the business is successful because that’s a win for the family.”

Yashica has dreams of expanding and opening another restaurant, so everyone to have a seat at the table.