BY ADIANNA ALSTON | For AC JosepH Media
LAWNSIDE — For nearly a decade, Vincent Rochester II as been serving up delicious eats at what has become one of the “must stops” for great Southern food at Rochester’s BBQ and Grill located in Lawnside.
Rochester serves as executive chef at his family-owned business. Rochester’s BBQ brings the savory and bold flavors of Southern cuisine to the North. The restaurant is coming up on its 10-year anniversary as it first opened in December of 2013.
Rochester’s parents Vincent and Ernestine Rochester were the initial owners of the restaurant before their son took over. Rochester shares the inspiration behind his family’s business.
“We grew up in a family where we were the entertainers — my mom and dad — and my mom was a really good cook,” Vincent Rochester said.
It was the joy that his family got from serving others and sharing their love through food which drove them to open Rochester’s BBQ.
Rochester has more than 30 years of cooking experience paired with a deep passion for what he does.
“Food is love,” he said. “The restaurant is an extension of my home — I just have a bigger kitchen and I have a bigger dining room. But I’m going to feed you like I would feed you if you were a guest in my home. No shortcuts. I’m not going to feed you something that I wouldn’t eat myself.”
Rochester takes his job very seriously as he strives to serve and bring joy to not only his patrons, but God.
“It’s my ministry,” he said. “God doesn’t give everybody this opportunity. He allows me to feed his people, I take that with the utmost respect and reverence. I want to make God happy.”
Rochester’s favorite aspect of being a chef is the happiness he is able to bring to others: “When people are genuinely happy, it’s all worth it.”
In keeping with their mission, Rochester’s BBQ brought plenty of smiles to the faces of hospital employees during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Every Saturday for weeks Rochester’s BBQ delivered enough food to feed over fifty workers at Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital and Jefferson Stratford Hospital.
“We needed to give them some food of some substance. We would cook every Saturday and deliver food to the ER because those people had been working around the clock,” Rochester told Front Runner New Jersey.
“It was our way of trying to show our appreciation because I know that COVID hit hard and everybody knows someone who lost someone from the devastating effects that covid brought,” he told Front Runner New Jersey.
Unfortunately, due in part to the pandemic, the restaurant has taken a hit and there has been a large decrease in business. Despite this, the business has remained steadfast through it all.
“We’re standing on God’s promise. He didn’t bring us this far to leave us. It’s all in his time. I’m going to continue to stand on my faith, show up every day, and give 110%” Rochester said.
It is Rochester’s hope to be able to expand the business and eventually open a second location in Philadelphia, however the restaurant is in dire need of community support.
One way that the company is attempting to increase visibility is through social media. Feel free to check out their Instagram page @rochestersbbq and Facebook page “Rochester’s Barbecue & Grill.”
Rochester’s BBQ is currently open Thursday-Sunday. From juicy fried chicken, slow smoked brisket, rich collard greens and more, you will be sure to find something to satisfy your palate.
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