Cooking up better life for his 6 kids: Single father opens restaurant

T's Soul Food Express has been open for about a month

PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. – Tyler Hairston opened T's Soul Food Express about a month ago.

"We do hamburgers, hot dogs and wings, and then we have soul food plates on every Saturday," Hairston said.

Before he started the restaurant, he was working a variety of jobs.

"I used to walk daily back and forth to work, working as a CNA (certified nursing assistant) at Riverside Healthcare...and just saved up the money I had from jobs with Ameristaff and different temporary places," Hairston explained.

The restaurant is just outside Danville in Blairs, so he doesn't walk to work anymore.

Instead, he gets a ride from his friend, Melvin Homes, who also serves as the restaurant's delivery driver.

"Any man that's got six children and is a go-getter, I'm 100 percent behind," Homes said. "I love to see that. That's what drives me. That's what makes me come out and deliver the food to all the nice, beautiful customers."

John Womack has come to the restaurant almost every day that it's been open.

"This food's very good because it's home cooked," Womack said.

He said Hairston's desire is inspiring.

"It's very good...Most people like him, I don't know what to say about them," Womack said.

"He's putting his heart into it," Homes said of Hairston. "He's a goodhearted person."

That heart, Hairston hopes, will leave a lasting impression on his children.

"It's to show them that hard work, this is what it gets you. This is what it gets you," Hairston said.

The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

It's located at 5912 U.S. Highway 29 in Blairs.

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