New Restaurant Brings Soul Food and Community Spirit to Town - TribPapers

New Restaurant Brings Soul Food and Community Spirit to Town

A crowd waits to order at Rhema Soul's new rolling restaurant.

Tryon – Ron and Via Child named their Arizona-based restaurants Rhema Soul after a Greek word meaning “God’s vision.” That vision has brought the experienced entrepreneurs to bring their award-winning BBQ and soul food to Western North Carolina. While the renovations to their brick and mortar location at 65 Depot Street are being completed, the Vias are serving their award-winning soul food out of a permanently parked food truck.

Located near the historic train depot in downtown Tryon, the location offers ample parking and views of downtown. Visitors can choose from a range of ribs, chopped pork, and wings plus creative, home-made sides. Each meal is made fresh to order, and diners are given a pager after placing their order so they can explore the rest of downtown Tryon or relax in nearby indoor seating.

The Childs have perfected the process through a decade of experience in the hospitality industry and running three different restaurant locations in Arizona.

“Right before the pandemic, we transitioned to our rolling restaurant. Which we really like, because it’s more freedom and less overhead,” said Via. However, mobile food service proved challenging in Arizona’s extreme weather.

“We haven’t seen an autumn in twelve years,” said Via. “Our very last day in Arizona was in July and it was 117 degrees. I said ‘I am done with this.’ I was tired of the extremes—cold winters in New York and hot summers in Arizona.”

The Childs knew they were looking for a change, and happened across Tryon while visiting family in Charlotte, NC, two years ago. They instantly felt a connection.

“We were like, ‘That’s it.’ It was literally just one of those feelings, said Ron. “Unbeknownst to us, how nice it really is. It surpassed what we thought it could be.”

On that initial visit, Ron and Via met with other restaurateurs in the area who suggested possible locations and began connecting the duo to local developers.

“This town is really friendly. They’re so willing to help you navigate through it because we’re new. People have been so kind and generous. So that southern hospitality was very welcoming to us,” said Via.

Although hesitant to open another brick-and-mortar restaurant, when the Childs discovered the available space on Depot Street, they knew it was the perfect fit. The location overlooks the site of the future Saluda Grade Rail Trail, which is expected to bring thousands of new visitors to town each year.

“We are hearing that we moved to town at the perfect time, because the city is on a come-up,” said Via.

Ron and Via look forward to being a part of the growth and plan to establish themselves as a welcoming, fun spot for all ages with plenty of indoor and outdoor entertainment space.

“We’ll have fire pits and ping pong, and something for the teenagers to do,” said Ron. “There’s a need for more cool spots for date nights and for teenagers and young adults to hang out. We’ll have that vibe. We want to bring a little bit more zest and a little bit more life to this part of Tryon.”

They anticipate a spring 2024 opening date for the full restaurant, but they are already growing a local following. They frequently sell out of their most popular offerings in only a few hours.

While waiting for her order, return customer Lynn Perlmutter said, “It’s thrilling to have someone open on Sundays. I highly recommend the brisket and rice or the sweet potato fries. I have to work through the rest of the menu. As a realtor, I see what a supportive community Tryon is for locally-owned establishments. It’s nice to see another local option for good food and good fun.”

Current hours for Rhema Soul vary depending on weather and are announced on social media the day before they open. Ron and Via are consistently open on Sundays and days when many other local restaurants are closed to give their staff a break. The current menu and schedule are available at or on Facebook.