Robert Bynum spent his childhood enjoying the comfort and familiarity of his mother’s southern soul food and listening to jazz music.
Now, he wants to bring both of those things to Broad Street with the opening of his restaurant and jazz bar, SOUTH. After exploring several potential locations, Bynum saw Broad Street as the perfect fit for his vision.
“We view Broad Street as the center of the city,” he said.
Bynum wanted to create an atmosphere with contemporary Southern cuisine that places equal emphasis on the quality of food and music.
“What we try to do is put a 100 percent focus on our food, as well as a 100 percent focus on our music,” Bynum said.
According to Harrison Hayman, the operating partner and general manager for SOUTH, the restaurant aims to make guests feel like they’ve left Philadelphia and entered a classic Southern home.
Everything in the restaurant is made from scratch, from the corn soup to the hot sauce. Glass cabinets and French doors filled with pickled vegetables and preserves line the perimeter of the restaurant, along with a fixture known as a bottle tree attached to the ceiling.
Hayman said the bottle tree is reminiscent of Southern tradition, and an important asset of the restaurant.
“Young couples or recently married couples place a bottle on the tree if they want a dream to come true, or to keep out evil spirits,” Hayman said.
With the Oct. 15 grand opening of SOUTH approaching, the management found staff members at Temple.
Freshman tourism and hospitality major Alexis Reaves began working at the restaurant after South reached out to Elizabeth Barber, the Associate Dean of the School of Tourism and Hospitality.
Reaves said working at SOUTH has given her a good first experience in the industry.
“The restaurant does a great job of including everyone,” Reaves said. “It makes you feel like you’re back at home.”
On the other side of the Southern home-inspired restaurant, a jazz bar stands alone. Hayman said the bar will host jazz performances six days a week—Bynum’s personal favorite aspect of the job.
Bynum has developed many contacts over the years working in the industry, helping him recruit jazz talent.
“The food is great, but ultimately my passion goes back to the music,” Bynum said. “That’s what I’m most excited about.”
Bynum, who grew up with jazz, hopes that through South, a younger generation of fans will emerge.
“I do believe that with some of the millennial generation, jazz is coming back with a newfound popularity,” Bynum said.
Logan Beck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.