Duluth brothers to open soul food kitchen, following in their dad’s footsteps

DULUTH – The Witherspoon brothers sang and laughed as they battered chicken and threw it in the deep fryer.

Tom Hanson watched with a smile of approval as the siblings navigated his kitchen at OMC Smokehouse, a popular restaurant in Duluth’s burgeoning Lincoln Park craft district.

“His eyes kind of lit up a bit the first time he tried it,” said Stephan Witherspoon, serving the crispy golden pieces alongside a bowl of his homemade cornbread dressing.

“When the man endorses you,” Solomon Witherspoon said, gesturing toward Hanson, “that’s how you know it’s real.”

The brothers are planning to open a soul food joint in Lincoln Park next year.

The venture would add them to the small roster of Black restaurant owners in the northeastern Minnesota city of 86,000.

The restaurant — dubbed Doc Witherspoon’s Soul Food Kitchen in their father’s honor — will serve Southern-style favorites like fried chicken, mac and cheese, cornbread and sweet potato pie.

Hanson, who owns two other Duluth restaurants, is helping advise the brothers as they search for a brick-and-mortar home, form marketing plans and seek business loans. He’s also contributing funds to their startup.

“Why am I helping to set up a competitor across the street? I believe that it will bring more people to Lincoln Park,” Hanson said.

“People get the benefit of trying new foods, and we’re culturally moving our neighborhood forward.”

Sylvester Witherspoon, also known as Doc, operated a restaurant in West Duluth in the 1970s and 1980s. He served as a pastor for years before he died in 1999.

Stephan Witherspoon, who serves as president of the local NAACP, remembers hanging around his father’s kitchen as a young boy, “looking, learning and especially tasting.”

“Now we’re living in these times of division, and we want to bring people together through food and love,” he said.

The Witherspoons will be having a pop-up event Sunday from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Peace United Church. Customers can preorder family-style meals ahead of time online.

Solomon Witherspoon said he hopes to someday be able to pay forward the business advice to other Black entrepreneurs.

“We absolutely want to be trendsetters,” he said.

In the meantime, the brothers are working to carry on their father’s legacy.

They make the work fun, dancing and teasing each other as they whip up the time-tested recipes they’ve carefully honed with years of minor tweaks.

“Personally, I’ve always thought my father did a lot for Duluth but didn’t get a lot of love back,” said Stephan Witherspoon, noting that his parents spent years as community activists.

His father was constantly inviting friends and strangers to join family meals or backyard barbecues.

“We’re feeling the love now,” he added.


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Lizzie Borden’s House Is For Sale In Case You Want To Walk In The Footsteps of an Alleged Murderer

The house where Lizzie Borden lived and died after allegedly murdering her family is now for sale. It’s not the home where Borden was accused of killing her father and stepmother in 1892, it’s where she lived after being acquitted of the crimes.

a wooden bench covered in snow: A hatchet sits on a fence at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters on January 5, 2016, near Burns, Oregon.

© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/Getty
A hatchet sits on a fence at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters on January 5, 2016, near Burns, Oregon.

The home, called Maplecroft, is in Fall River, Massachusetts, the same town of the infamous Borden murder home. Apparently, it’s being sold by the same people who own the house where Borden allegedly murdered her family. That home is now a museum and bed and breakfast, something else to keep in mind if you’re looking for a terrifying vacation rental.

Lizzie Official Trailer | Roadside Attractions | In Select Theaters September 14



Donald Woods and Lee-ann Wilber, the owners, bought the Maplecroft property in 2018 with plans to convert it into a second museum location. “Our goal is to tell the story of the second part of her life,” Woods told the Herald News in 2018. “She really was a complex character. She’s not just an alleged ax murderer.”

The home is on the market fully furnished with furniture that represents the early 1900s. Though she was accused of murder, Borden went on to live an incredibly privileged life, one full of a rich social life and high societal standing. Her wealth is seen in the home itself, a mansion that sports seven bedrooms and incredible wood detailing.

It appears Woods and Wilber may have decided to sell the house after the building was declared not up to code. Local authorities declined to allow the public to visit the historic mansion without the addition of an elevator. Woods argued an elevator would take away from certain aspects of Borden’s history, according to the Herald News.

Since it doesn’t appear the home will be opening to the public anytime soon, now is the ideal chance for a true crime lover to dive into a historic, yet macabre location. It’s on the market for $890,000. You can see the full listing here.

Borden was found not guilty of mutilating her father and stepmother’s bodies with a hatchet, but it’s widely believed she was the true murderer. Borden’s name has become synonymous with American true crime and the creepy, yet fascinating stories that somehow inch their way into daily life.

In her case, the goes past being a household name and even into the realm of a terrifying children’s rhyme that details the brutal slaying. “Lizzie Borden took an axe,” is the first line of the jingle, which may be one of the ways the woman’s name was highly publicized.

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