Sitting Down to Sunday Dinner at LaGlory’s Soul Food Café
"Charter members” and newcomers enjoy Southern classics at this welcoming East Side restaurant.
Marc Bradley is really good at feeding people.
When it comes to the actual cooking, though, the owner of LaGlory’s Soul Food Café is quick to give props to his kitchen staff. “If it’s not for those ladies back there, there’s no business,” Bradley says during a March interview at the restaurant. “They take care of this guy.”
While the ladies of LaGlory’s deserve endless praise, it’s worth noting that the vision for the restaurant—one based on community, family and classic soul food dishes—comes from Bradley. The Flint, Michigan, native opened LaGlory’s in 2013. He originally planned to serve in a consulting role in partnership with City of Grace Church, which owns the building where LaGlory’s is housed. But as time went on, Bradley began putting more of his own resources into it and was soon fully committed to running the restaurant.
Almost eight years later, LaGlory’s has found its footing with a solid menu, a devoted clientele, a sharp staff led by head cook Tia Wright and a robust carryout operation that has kept the restaurant going through the pandemic.
“What I tell everybody is, and I truly believe this, other than God wanting us to be here, there’s no reason why this restaurant is still here,” Bradley says.
Bradley often refers to the staff as family, and he means that literally. Several of Wright’s children work with her at the restaurant, and Bradley hopes to one day pass LaGlory’s on to one of his kids. Ever the gentleman, in a follow-up call he politely asks if I can mention his wife, Altheda. An HR specialist by trade, she helps out on the business side of LaGlory’s.
The warm, friendly atmosphere of the restaurant will be familiar to anyone who has spent time in a close-knit congregation. Staff dish up food behind a cafeteria line, and a chalkboard menu takes up a large part of one wall. The other walls are decorated with Black artworks, several depicting scenes from Columbus history. During our interview, Bradley stops to chat with customers and joke with his staff. He fondly mentions the restaurant’s “charter members”—those customers who are known by name and order—and looks forward to opening up for dine-in service again in the near future.
LaGlory’s serves the kind of fare that would be right at home on a Sunday dinner table: fried chicken ($9.49-$10.89), catfish ($11.49) and meatloaf ($10.99). Meals come with cornbread and a choice of two sides such as mac ’n’ cheese, collard greens and yams. And you can’t skip dessert. There’s a rotating cast of cakes—lemon, pound, carrot ($4.95 per slice)—and a stellar banana pudding to choose from.
The restaurant’s top seller is its smothered pork chops ($10.49, with two sides and cornbread). The dish is an ode to a Columbus notable, the Rev. Charles E. Booth, the late pastor of Downtown’s Mount Olivet Baptist Church, which Bradley attended. “When he’d come back from New York, he would always talk about how he had the smothered pork chops at Sylvia’s,” Bradley says, referring to the landmark Harlem restaurant. “I said if I ever open up a restaurant, I want to do smothered pork chops.”
As we’re wrapping up our conversation, Bradley looks toward the front door. One of LaGlory’s “charter members” has just walked in.
“How long you been coming here, Ms. Nichols?” he calls to the familiar face.
“Eight years,” she responds. “Ever since y’all been serving that good food.”
LaGlory’s Soul Food Café
3350 Allegheny Ave., East Side, 614-237-5844, lagloryscafe.com