Until last year, Larry Ross had never given much thought to opening up his own restaurant. A contractor by trade, his food-service experience consisted mostly of a brief stint running a take-out joint in Sheraden when he was laid off from his job six years ago.
But after seriously injuring his back in a May 2011 car accident, "I couldn't work as a contractor anymore," says Ross. "I was trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life when a friend called me and asked if I wanted to take his business over."
His friend's Smithfield Street location had been a sub shop, and while Ross was intrigued by running a restaurant, his own culinary expertise lay elsewhere. "I know how to make ribs and greens and things like that," he says. "So that's what I decided to go with."
Thus was born Fredrick's Soul Food.
Ross developed his own recipes for the kind of food he grew up eating. He makes everything from scratch — from the barbecue sauce to the coating on his chicken wings — and smokes the ribs in an outdoor space above his restaurant before finishing them in the oven.
His food is available in both larger portions and in lunch combo-sized portions — including ribs by the bone — with prices in the $5 ballpark.
"I wanted to keep my food affordable for everyone," he says. "I can't stand the thought of somebody going hungry."