Bernard remembered my phone call. I was the guy from Tennessee who had called a week earlier to see how late Thelma’s Chicken & Waffles stayed open on Sundays. During the phone call, he was puzzled why I would drive four hours to Roanoke for lunch. “I’m going to Richmond,” I said. “But we’re in Roanoke,” he replied. “I know, it’s on the way,” I said.
Bernard wanted to know how I had heard of their place and why I wanted to eat there. “I used to live in Los Angeles,” I said. “You heard of us in Los Angeles?” “No, but that’s where I first tried and loved Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles.” “So why are you coming here?” “Because you have chicken and because you have waffles.” “So how did you hear about us?” “I drove past it a few weeks ago on my way home to Tennessee.” “Tennessee?”
Our phone conversation continued like a Bob & Ray bit for a while. Ultimately I found out that the restaurant closes at 5:00 p.m. on Sundays and at 9:00 p.m. every other day. I told Bernard I would see him in a week. Then I made arrangements for my friend Sarah Ripley, the jock-of-all-trades at 101.5 The Music Place, to meet me at Thelma’s.
I ordered the boneless breast and a waffle from our server, Tequoia. My son and Sarah’s son did the same. She and her boyfriend were a little more adventurous, getting side orders of catfish, cabbage and lima beans. Knowing that I still had a family dinner ahead of me in Richmond, I resisted the urge to try any sweet potato pie or banana pudding. Maybe next time.