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A Beloved St. John’s Soul Food Restaurant is Closing Later This Month

Fans of Mama San Soul Shack have until September 20 for a final rice bowl and boozy slushy

Mama San Soul Shack at night
Mama San Soul Shack/Official

Mama San Soul Shack, the beloved St. John’s counter-service restaurant and bar specializing in soul food with an East Asian twist, will shutter on September 20. Until then, the restaurant will be open with limited hours: Thursdays to Mondays, noon to 8 p.m.

Opened in August of 2015, the restaurant was popular with the St. John’s crowd for its rice bowls, fried chicken, a bar that included boozy slushies and house sodas, and its large front patio. Despite that, it has struggled financially, co-owner Andrew Boggs said, and its issues were exacerbated by communication breakdowns between him and co-owner and chef Chris Hopkins. Boggs, who runs the business side of the restaurant as well as its bar and front of house service, said that while Hopkins was an excellent cook, he was an unresponsive partner who didn’t fully appreciate the financial aspects of running the restaurant. After some business negotiations between the two fell through, Hopkins eventually left, and Boggs announced via Facebook on August 23 that the store would be closing.

Despite the lack of its head chef, Mama San will stay open for a few more weeks to make sure everyone can make it in for a last rice bowl or slushy. “The space itself and what we brought to the neighborhood, we’re very proud of that,” said Bogg. “We achieved that community contribution we wanted to. And the outpouring we’ve seen from the regulars is very touching — that helps deal with the pain of the loss.”

While Mama San will soon be gone, it will most likely be replaced by another family-friendly restaurant, Boggs said, as the landlord wants to keep it that way. No deals have been made yet, though.