“We’ll call it Sunday Service even though it’s not church”

Biscuit queen Erika Council draws her plans for brunch service from Sunday fellowship

Erika Council
Erika Council

Photograph by Bailey Garrot

At 12:30 p.m. on a Sunday in early December, Erika Council’s Bomb Biscuit Co. was already booming. Council’s reputation preceded her new restaurant in Old Fourth Ward: She’s been operating Bomb Biscuit in various configurations—pop-ups, deliveries, a space at Irwin Street Market—since 2016, and today, patrons were lined up in anticipation of ordering Council’s famously fluffy creations. Seated customers, despite having mouthfuls of the star menu item, were making joyful noises chewing and chatting it up with tablemates, filling the dining room with energy. And Bomb Biscuit wasn’t even officially serving brunch yet.

But Council could already see a great day ahead: She’d just gotten her liquor license and was preparing to launch Sunday brunch on January 1. When I called her up later, she gave me a preview of her plans. “We’ll call it Sunday Service, even though it’s not church,” Council said:

I attribute Sunday brunch to that first Sunday fellowship hall community church dinner. They are not the same, but if you remember growing up going to church, always on first Sundays where I’m from in North Carolina, there’d be food in the front hall after Sunday service. All the ladies, and men too, would bring in their dishes—everything from fried chicken to potato salad, grits, and fried fish. My grandmother was in charge of the kitchen committee. There was always an array of different dishes, but typically fried food and soul food.

We’ll have drinks: mimosas and specialty cocktails, but also punch bowls. You remember how they would put sherbet ice cream with Sprite in the punch bowl? Yeah, that kind of stuff. Drinks centered around what you’re used to—your mimosas, Bellinis, and French 75s, which is my favorite drink.

We’ll have fried chicken, but also blackened catfish and grits and things like that to elevate the menu a little bit. We’ll also have what we’ve always had: pancakes, fried chicken biscuits, and salmon croquettes, but more like a plate. My Aunt Mabel would take my Uncle Bobby a plate every first Sunday. It would be salmon croquettes, grits, collard greens, just all kinds of stuff. So I’m going to have an Uncle Bobby’s Plate—different plates centered around what I grew up watching these folks eat on first Sundays. Something about breakfast on that day had to be extra special.

The whole point was the community feel of it. You’ve congregated and worshipped together; it was embedded in the brain that now we’re going to come out of the sanctuary and go down to the fellowship hall, which is basically the community center of the church. I always wanted to do something like that if I ever had a restaurant.

This article appears in our February 2023 issue.