Blessing Okobi has been serving the food of her native Nigeria as a caterer in Fayetteville for more than a decade.
Whether it’s a wedding, party or a function at Fayetteville State University or the VA hospital, she’s often been asked the question that so many long-time caterers hear.
“So, when are you opening a restaurant?”
After years of telling people not yet, Okobi will soon have a restaurant of her own.
Point One African Cuisine will open at 1391 Walter Reed Road, just off Owen Drive, on Sept. 1. The location was previously home to Rise Southern Biscuits and Righteous Chicken.
Before moving to Fayetteville 12 years ago, Okobi had a catering business in Germany and before that, her native Nigeria, where she grew up cooking in the kitchen of the restaurant her mother ran.
“It’s been a passion for a long time,” she said.
She began searching for a restaurant in late 2019, a process hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 25-seat counter-service restaurant still shows signs of its past Rise life, including the words “Have a Righteous Day” decorating one side of the restaurant. Okobi said she’s leaving that up because it’s the same mantra she hopes to instill in the new restaurant.
She and her husband, Benedict, a retired U.S. Army sergeant, are also pastors at the Redeemed Christian Church of God Victory Temple in Fayetteville. Okobi said she hopes to build a community through the restaurant and her food in much the same way she’s built a community through the church.
“We’re here to be a blessing to the community,” she said. “We want to make our community greater and better.”
The menu is built on traditional Nigerian soups and stews, including egusi soup, efo riro, okra soup, pepper soup, asaro and many other dishes. Jollof rice, a staple dish of rice cooked in a peppery tomato broth, comes served at Point One with beef, fish, turkey or chicken and fried plantains as one of the combo meals available daily. Photos of the food decorate the dining room, to serve both as decor and as a guide for those less familiar with the cuisine.
Okobi joked that she’s been inside the restaurant working while people walk up to the front door and press their faces against the glass so they can get a view of the menu on the wall. She’s already had people place orders on GrubHub that she’s had to decline and explain that the restaurant isn’t open yet.
Suffice it to say, anticipation is high.
“Once people have a taste, there’s no limit,” Okobi said.
The restaurant will be open Monday to Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Jacob Pucci writes on food, restaurants and business. Contact him by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @jacobpucci or on Facebook. Like talking food? Join our Fayetteville Foodies Facebook group.
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