Aunt Lou’s Soul Food opening downtown

Aunt Lou’s Soul Food is opening Friday, more than a year after Corey Dickerson first announced he was teaming up with Smarjesse Taylor to bring “modern soul food with a classy touch” to downtown.

click to enlarge Aunt Lou’s Soul Food opening downtown
Corey Dickerson in front of 524 E. Monroe St. when renovations were beginning in 2023.
“There were a lot of issues with the city,” Dickerson said, who noted that his landlord, Rick Lawrence, has had ongoing conflicts with city officials. “I got caught in the middle of it all.”

In November 2022, a company operated by Lawrence, Bright New Day Investments LLC, resumed work on the historic Ferguson, Booth and Bateman-Kennedy buildings on the southwest corner of Sixth and Monroe streets. Lawrence said at the time he was hoping to complete the first-floor space at 524 E. Monroe, the eight-story Ferguson building, so that it would be ready for a new tenant. It had been vacant since Vele relocated to the west side in 2020.

While this is Dickerson's first restaurant venture, he has an extensive background in the industry. He was raised by his grandmother, known as Aunt Lou, who was known for her cooking and passed on her skills to him. He left Springfield for a time and worked as a chef while living in Miami, Florida, catering private events.

Dickerson returned to Springfield after his grandmother’s death and then operated the restaurant and sports bar inside the Brass Rail Reception Center at 1701 J. David Jones Parkway before the hotel closed. After participating in Downtown Springfield, Inc.’s annual Friends of the Market dinner, he decided he wanted to open a restaurant downtown and pursue his own type of cooking.

click to enlarge Aunt Lou’s Soul Food opening downtown
The interior of Aunt Lou's Soul Food following the renovations.

Aunt Lou’s menu focuses heavily on comfort food favorites such as smothered or fried pork chops, fried chicken and fish, pot roast and shrimp and grits. Sides include baked mac and cheese, candied yams, mashed potatoes, greens and red beans and rice. The dessert options are “southern sweets” such as peach cobbler, sweet potato pie and banana pudding. The full menu can be viewed at

Dickerson said he will be the head chef, but he’s enlisted “a lot of family” to help run the restaurant, including several of his daughters.

Aunt Lou’s will take reservations but also be open for walk-ins, and Dickerson said he has a permit to offer outdoor dining as well. The restaurant will be open seven days a week, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

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