Rhodes Casual Dining offers patrons a social dining experience

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, January 11, 2023

As the old saying goes, the best way to stimulate the mind is through food. Mignon Smith, owner of Rhodes Casual Dining, knows this best.

Smith said the restaurant started as a vision for her father, David Rhodes.

“My dad saw this place and thought it would be a great idea to consider building something and investing in it,” Smith said. “So, we went on to create Rhodes Sports Bar in January 2019. Four years later, we’ve changed our name to Rhodes Casual Dining to create more of a casual laid-back dining experience but to also offer a social environment for people to engage in as well.”

Rhodes Casual Dining offers Southern American comfort food with items ranging from chicken, fish, shrimp, and pork chop sandwiches.

“We offer a lot of variety,” Smith said. “Most of our clientele comes in for quick items because we’re not fast food, but we’re not formal dining. As fast casual dining, our food is anything that can be prepared between 10 to 15 minutes — everything is made fresh to order.”

Smith said the lunch menu offers the biggest selection because it includes items that are easy and quick for people to grab and go.

“We do a lot of takeout business and then on the weekends, we offer more of a brunch style, where we play with our menu a lot more,” Smith said. “We’ve done oxtails and grits, French toast, chicken and pancakes, steak and eggs and even lamb chops. We get creative with the brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays.”

In its time, Rhodes has played host to many events, including hosting political candidates Stacey Abrams, Senator Raphael Warnock and Charlie Bailey.

“We aspire to be a place that is a community hub and within being a community hub, we see it as an opportunity for the intersectionality of food, culture, music, art and politics to come together,” Smith said. “Our events are varied across scale because it really is about addressing community and big social issues right within the community — and we don’t shy away from that.”

Smith said she feels it’s important for people to want to be informed and have options that can challenge ways of thinking.

“A lot of the political events that have happened here because people need to understand what being engaged in the political process really means for them and to learn the benefits and values of that for their communities,” Smith said.

Smith said the restaurant will host different social events based on books and art along with live music from local artists.

“We try to be creative — nothing is outside of the scope of what we don’t want to do, as long as it’s adding value intellectually and socially to the community,” Smith said.

Smith said she feels like the restaurant has a symbolic impact on the community and is a declaration of the potential that anyone can be successful.

“I think the power of having this place in the community that I grew up in, in the neighborhood I grew up in is big,” Smith said. “I think it allows people to see for themselves that they can be the same thing — maybe even bigger and better. For me, that’s the one thing that I am satisfied with and that I feel is my responsibility to do.”

As a restaurant owner, Smith encourages people to be patient with the service industry.

“It is hard to be a small business owner. You have early mornings, you have late nights, and you have to keep showing up for something that you really believe in. It takes a lot of work, a lot of passion, a lot of resources and a lot of support,” Smith said. “I ask that people show grace and gratitude to people that are in food and beverage. Every small business in this community needs support, and we ask that people come out and support.”

Rhodes Casual Dining located at 1604 Whitesville Rd and is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursday – Sunday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.