There’s a new restaurateur in Greenwood.
Jamoni Jennings opened The Venue by the Trail at 401 Johnson St. near the end of March. It offers breakfast and lunch, and business is steady and strong, he said. Customers work in the area and come in before work and at lunchtime.
“We’re selling out every day,” he said. “We just can’t keep up.”
Jennings, a Greenwood native, graduated from Greenwood High School in 1999. He’s been a city firefighter for 14 years and has a photo in the lobby of his restaurant of his squad battling a house fire with Jennings on the roof. He’s also in the Army Reserve — “19 years and counting,” he said — and spent 2011-12 in Afghanistan.
In his 37 years, “I’ve been through a lot,” Jennings said. He’s single, has lots of family around town and belongs to Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. Jennings also owns and rents out houses around town that he’s purchased and fixed up. He’s been able to learn carpentry, electrical work, plumbing, roofing and painting while working through his projects, which is what led him to The Venue and his first restaurant.
Jennings said he bought the building in September 2017 when it housed Nita’s restaurant. “But it was in bad shape,” he said. “It needed everything.”
He and family members took the inside down to the support posts and beams that held up the roof and then fixed the roof. All the walls inside the building are new, as are the floor, ceiling, long bar-countertop, plumbing and electrical components. The building had a kitchen, but the equipment was, again, “in bad shape” and had to be replaced.
He was able to keep one asset from the old building: Nita Davis, the cook. Her restaurant had been in the space for five years, and she had a great reputation in the community for her homestyle cooking. Instead of starting from scratch, The Venue had an immediate following for breakfast and lunch.
Nita starts her day at 4:45 a.m. to get the biscuits going, and she cooks up grits, eggs, bacon, sausage links and sausage patties, gravy and biscuits, and toasted biscuits. Lunch features something different every day with the favorites always in demand: neck bones, fried chicken, wings and catfish, with a variety of sides.
Jennings can be in the restaurant some days helping with the servings. Others, he comes in before his shift at the fire department.
It’s his first venture in the restaurant business, but it may not be his last. With a lot already going, he wants to do more and plans to have things in place when he retires from the fire department with 20 years in and still only 43 years old. “I’m going to try to have about 30 houses and two businesses before I retire,” he said.
•Contact Gavin Maliska at 581-7235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.