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Tasty Tuesday: Humble beginnings, diverse menu drive Nana Karen’s popularity in Southside

Everything from catfish to chorizo to waffles sells at Nana Karen’s

DANVILLE, Va. – Katie Inman, Cheyna Haberer and Dustin Haberer keep family at the forefront of everything. Dustin tells us that’s why he named this restaurant after his mom. “My mom’s name was Karen. She passed away from cancer. She was 49.”

Nana Karen’s first started as a food truck years ago, but “The demand for our food was going up, but I could only produce so many meals per day.”

It took time to get the vision of a brick and mortar to come to life. That’s where Inman comes in. She says it all has to do with, “Inspiration. It was inspiration to make this into something.”

Inspiration goes beyond the look of this shop. It goes straight to the menu. A diverse and expansive menu leaves some customers asking, “Who comes up with this?!”

Dustin comes up with this and says a lot of it has to do with his early stages in life.

“The inspiration comes from our humble beginnings. We had it rough growing up. We were always forced to try to get creative with the lower-priced foods that we were able to afford.”

He calls it four-star dishes with two-star ingredients, as he rattles off a number of top-sellers, like the “Cajun-fried catfish sandwich, chicken bacon ranch wrap, blackberry waffle, grilled mac n’ cheese sandwich, bang bang chicken and chorizo, and chicken and waffle sandwich as well.”

Inman then comes in like the closer in a baseball game, shutting things down with her dynamite cheesecake bowls.

All this keeps so many coming back for more, but they’ll also come to you.

Nana Karen’s caters, “Office orders, holiday parties…we do a lot of weddings. We don’t have a set menu. We let the client have complete creative freedom.”

The crew also tells me they serve lunch to the homeless, but their humble beginnings leave them striving to do more. You can also drop off donations to the House of Hope box inside the restaurant to help keep struggling families warm this upcoming winter.


About the Author:

Meteorologist Chris Michaels is an American Meteorological Society (AMS) Certified Broadcaster, forecasting weather conditions in southwest Virginia on WSLS 10 News from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays on Virginia Today.