Sally Bell’s offers a few of Richmond’s favorite things

It’s not a brown paper package. But it is tied up with string and it is one of Richmond’s very favorite things. And now, thanks to a new venture, you can enjoy it on weekends.
In 1924, following their meeting at a Women’s Exchange, Sarah (“Sallie”) Cabell Jones of Ashland and Elizabeth Lee Milton of Gloucester opened what was then called “Sarah Lee Kitchen.” They set out to provide quality catering goods, made from scratch. Five years in, Mrs. Milton sold her interest in the company to Mrs. Jones.
While it may be true that “Nobody doesn’t like Sarah Lee,” the larger corporation didn’t care for the local bakery’s use of the name. So the name was changed to the now Richmond famous “Sally Bell’s Kitchen.”
The box lunch tradition began in the 1950s. And in that nearly sixty years, the box lunch menu, and recipes haven’t changed. Since the tradition began, customers have been opening up that little black and white cardboard box to see their favorite Sally Belle Kitchen lunch item inside. Was it the deviled egg? Was it the upside down cupcake? Or was it just good food packaged well?
Sally Bell’s has been at their 701 Grace Street location since their beginnings. But, sadly for their fans, they are only open on weekdays. That means if you weren’t downtown during the week, chances were that you’d never get to experience the joy of a Sally Bell boxed lunch.
But this spring the caterer opened a new location at The Landing at Fountain Lake in Byrd Park. Now, on a weekend you can grab your lunch and enjoy a picnic by the lake. As an added bonus, Sally Bell’s now manages the paddle boat rental on the lake.
So far, it’s been a successful venture for the caterer.
Manager Scott Jones recently told “We’re getting a lot of West End ladies who are coming out here for a Sally Bell’s box lunch. And then last week, we had a huge group of kids who were out here for Friday Pictures in the Park who were buying ice cream and sodas.”
What’s so amazing about a Sally Bell lunch? For many it’s tradition. It’s comfort food. It’s the food you know. But the deviled eggs, sometimes made by the hundreds and the sweet potato salad can make your meal worthwhile.
Not to be missed are the upside down cupcakes. Sure you can go to one of the new, trendy cupcake bakeries. But the cupcakes at Sally Bell’s are made to eat, not to display. They’re iced upside down so that you get a taste of icing in every bite.
While the original owners were ladies of tradition and while the company has held those traditions throughout, branching out to Byrd Park signifies the recognition that it might just be time to grow a bit. And grow, they are. Sally Bell’s Facebook page now has over a thousand fans.
So this weekend, take a break from the usual and enjoy a Richmond tradition, now coming to you in their new location at Byrd Park.

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