Oak Hill Restaurant taking care of local people

Published 10:42 am Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Bill Kemp, left and Romana Rich

Bill Kemp, left and Ramona Rich

CAPRON—After three years in the making, Oak Hill Restaurant and Gifts in Capron is serving breakfast and lunch to area residents and passersby. Bill Kemp and Ramona Rich, co-owners, said they had a “soft opening” on Monday of last week, and the first two days were particularly encouraging.

Oak Hill Restaurant and Gifts in Capron is the result of three years of plans and construction. Opening day was March 24 -- STEPHEN H. COWLES | Tidewater News

Oak Hill Restaurant and Gifts in Capron is the result of three years of plans and construction. Opening day was March 24 — STEPHEN H. COWLES | Tidewater News

A grand opening is planned for another week or so.

“We’ve been well-received by the community,” said Kemp. “They’ve come in droves.”

What customers are coming for is breakfast — eggs cooked to order, grits, home fries, pancakes and French toast — and lunch, with home-cooked specials prepared every day.

All this at reasonable prices and in a family atmosphere, they add. Adding to that ambience is a spacious and well-lit interior.

Kemp and Rich would like to offer dinner eventually. They envision serving steak and seafood, for example.

“We’re taking care of local people, including hiring local people,” said Kemp.

Another way the restaurant is serving the public is by offering a 20 percent discount and free drinks to military personnel and police officers in uniform.

They also intend to become more involved in the community.

Staff members serving customers are Judy Romines, Nicole Pearce, waitress, Alexa and Nick Nichols and Constance Copeland, cook.

Speaking of cooking, Rich brings years of her own experience in the kitchen, including high school and college classes in food preparation.

“I like to cook,” she said.

Her professional experience features making peanut brittle for the Peanut Patch, which evolved into co-ownership of the Southern Sisters restaurant in nearby Courtland, as well as serving on the Friends of the Fair Board.

Speaking of friends, that’s how Kemp and Rich came to establish their restaurant.

Along with respective spouses, Cindy Kemp and the late Kenneth Rich, they’ve known each other for more than 30 years.

Kemp worked as a contracting officer for government procuring, including Little Creek Naval Base and around the world for many years.

After retiring, the two couples got a goat herd.

“And this idea [of the restaurant] came up,” he said. “I have land, and she wanted a new place. She’s an excellent cook.”

The research showed that local people have been wanting a restaurant such as Oak Hill. Secure that there was a demand, planning started in January 2011.

There have been many hoops to jump and obstacles along the way, said Kemp and Rich, but they want to especially recognized some people who have helped to clear the way.

Amy Carr, county treasurer, “bent over backwards,” said Kemp. “And Beth Lewis, community planner, was very help. We really appreciate their professionalism.”

Lest they forget, Kemp and Rich also wanted to express their thanks to the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office for their help directing traffic during construction.

“They did a wonderful job,” said Rich.

Oak Hill Restaurant and Gifts is open 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Sunday, and is located at 12973 Southampton Parkway (Route 58W). For more information, call 434-658-4340.