Tucked away on the corner of 4th and Blair in the Whiteaker neighborhood is Papa Soul Foods, a southern-style restaurant home of the fried chicken and waffles plate.
The restaurant is rather small, so the clanking of silverware and plates and the humming of the lights above permeate the interior. Patrons of the restaurant enjoy their southern comfort meals while Bob Marley serenades them over the sound system. The outside patio, with wooden tables and paver-stones, is empty due to the brisk weather from the changing seasons.
Colorful paintings of Louisiana Jazz singers hang from the walls, along with magazine articles and plaques praising the restaurant for its delicious food. Few lights hang from the ceiling, creating a dim atmosphere. Along two sides of the restaurant, however, are rows of picture windows that let in rays of warming sunshine during the daytime to help brighten the dining room.
The menus look reminiscent of old advertisements found in broadsheet newspapers. Instead of text, there is a two-page spread of black and white images of the food items.
A psychology major is discussing psychology with a friend. The conversation has turned to dreaming, which she seems to be knowledgeable about.
Printed on her hands in sharpie ink are the letters “A” and “D.” She says they are to help her with lucid dreaming. Throughout the day, she will look down at her hands and ask whether she is dreaming or awake. The act of doing this supposedly begins to affect a person’s dreams and has them questioning what is real and what’s not.
Quoting the Chinese philosopher, Zhuangzi, she asked her friend, “If you’re dreaming that you are a butterfly, how do you know that you are not a butterfly dreaming that you’re human?”
Around her, the waitresses are busy navigating their way through the bustling kitchen dining room areas, and offer each new customer a sample of the house hot sauce, a potent apricot habanero blend. Coughing echoes through the restaurant as a man behind me samples the salsa and reacts to the intensity of it. The salsa burns your tongue and leaves you grasping for your beverage for sweet relief.
The thick aromas of the southern comfort foods mix with the crisp autumn air every time the glass paneled door opens to customers entering and exiting the restaurant.