Photos: Royceann’s Soul Food Restaurant grand opening

Matt Sindt, Photo Editor

Royceann’s Soul Food Restaurant held its grand opening Saturday in the new South District Market located at 947 US-6, Iowa City, Iowa.

Royceann Porter, a supervisor on the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, has been working on opening her own restaurant for the last year.

“It’s Amazing. This is so wonderful. I’m so grateful … I’m blessed … today has been very overwhelming; very overwhelming. But it’s awesome, the support. The love of the community has been tremendously wonderful,” Porter said.

Porter has cooked for countless community events in the past. Most recently, she catered food for a Black History month event in Coralville, Iowa, which fed 336 people.

“You always hear them say: ‘In order to get to a man’s heart is through his stomach.’ But me, I get to the community. That’s how I get involved with people in the community, I cook. So I’m always cooking,” Porter said. “I like to do fried cabbage, macaroni and cheese, and collard greens [and] fried chicken.” 

Customer Peter Flynn, who is familiar with Porter’s cooking said, “Being with her, being out in the community… we’ve gotten to experience the food already. So, it’s like: Oh, we can get it anytime now? This is great!”

“—And we can give her money for it.” Added Iowa City Councilor Andrew Dunn. “Royceann is a friend, and I want to support local small businesses… I’ve had Royceann’s cooking before. I mean, that’s why people are here,”

Flynn spoke about the launch of the new South District Market, where Royceann’s Soul Food Restaurant is located. “It’s also exciting to finally be able to come out and see the first version of the South District. This is what it is at its beginning and it’s only going to grow from here. It’s going to be fun seeing the marketplace really expand.”

When asked what Flynn ordered from the restaurant, he remarked with a simple “Everything.”

A steady line of people flocked to the counter to order some of the food. Mrs. Dennis, a customer enjoying the food remarked, “The food is delicious. It’s the best soul food in town. If you want to get some, come here… She is a very generous woman. She’s the best entrepreneur in this town. And she’s opening up new doors for African American businesses around here. So I’m very proud of her doing this.”

Tony Currin, one of the chefs behind the counter shared his thoughts on Porter and the restaurant. “I’ve known Royceann for over 20 years. Whatever she’s doing, I’ll always stick my nose in it, and I want to help. She’s done nothing but make history and make this a better place. She’s giving her flavor to the community for over 20 years, now we can all taste it,” Currin Said. “This place is so organic. It is about the community coming together, and she’s already been doing this. And it’s been about what she’s been doing every time she does the community feeds; Juneteenth, it’s just that now it’s brick and mortar. It’s like what we’ve all envisioned and what we’ve all worked for, and now we have a place to assemble. ”