Sunday, July 6, 2008

Thanks to Velma's

I just got back from a spontaneous Sunday brunch at Velma's where for $15 you get more food than you probably need, and less than you wish you had room for. A friendly woman named Tank cooked it all, and dished it out for me along with warmth of spirit and insight into what I was about to enjoy.

While there are plenty of choices that might pack a new pound on, there are also healthier options that are just as taste-bud-friendly. Try the vegetarian greens, black-eyed peas and rice, and succotash. The menu changes, so plan on a few visits to Velma's to graze all the options...both healthier and "guilty" pleasures.

The restaurant, on Jerrold between Barneveld and Upton, seems to change its name depending on the mood: Velma's Soul Food Cafe, Powell's at Velma's, Velma's Jazz Spot, Velma's Sunday Blues 'N Jazz Club. But the "mood" is always good.

Velma Landers is the force behind the name and the business. Emmit Powell, who owned the recently closed "Powell's" on Hayes Street, waved his magic spatula over the food (don't miss the jerk chicken and peach cobbler). And, whatever the name on the window, jazz and blues is the song in the air at Velma's.
A good time to visit Velma's will be Saturday, August 30th (Labor Day Weekend) when James "Sug-Pie" Pye and Suritha Jackson bring original Coasters member Adolph Jacobs, along with The Billy Dunn Band, to the Jerrold space from 8pm to 1am. Tickets are on sale until August 1st. Contact Velma at 415.637.5798.
Today, I was greeted by Leonard Brown, who goes by "Brown," a man who hails from Philadelphia and is quick with thoughtful perspective about our neighborhood. I couldn't have been made to feel more welcome and comfortable.

Thanks to all those who made my visit to Velma's special. And, from my very happy stomach: "Thanks to Tank!"

Velma's is open for lunch six days a week, excepting Friday. Doors open at 11am, and stay open until 3pm or later. The space, which is large and features a stage and mezzanine level, is perfect for group events.

-- Jeffrey Betcher

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