On April 8, Proud Mama’s Kitchen, or PMK, started serving good old country cooking just like your mama’s and granny’s.

Owners Daniel Salomonski and Traci Hackley hosted an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday. Members of the Hopewell-Prince George Chamber of Commerce and local business representatives were present.

Prince George County Board of Supervisors Chairman Donald Hunter presented an “open for business” plaque to Hackley; Supervisor Marlene J. Waymack was also present.

Formerly Hooah’s, the restaurant located within the Baymont Inn and Suites adjacent to The Crossings Shopping Center has sat still for two years, according to Hackley.

Baymont’s General Manager Hackley shared, “After bugging Daniel [Baymont owner Salomonski] to open it back up so we could use it as an amenity, he finally called me up and asked me if I wanted to go into the restaurant biz. I was just ecstatic and he gave me free reign to do some shopping, and I’ve had an absolute blast.”

PMK will be Hackley’s first restaurant. Hackley shared, “I’ve worked in plenty; started at Wendy’s when I was 15. After college I worked at Phillip’s Seafood House in Maryland and at The Dockside when I moved to Virginia.”

For ten years, Hackley also served as the victim witness director for the Hopewell Police Department and she tended bar part-time at the hotel where PMK is located for the past twenty years.

After the ribbon cutting, Hackley recognized friends, family and employees for helping get PMK ready: Assistant Manager Kim Wade, “Aunt Kathy, Cousin Laura, Jennifer and my best friend Mel Mason.”

“We brought Juanita Bowles [head cook at Poplar Springs Hospital] in here as our cook; she’s always cooked for us when we had a banquet. There’s nobody better,” said Hackley.

How did Hackley and Salomonski come up with “PMK”? Sitting one day thinking about how very proud she was of her children, Hackley came up with the name Proud Mama’s Kitchen.

Hackley said, “The whole concept here is ... you’ll never get the same plate twice, you’re never going to have matching silverware, you’ve got good old country comfort food and the prices are good for this community.”

Local preachers are going to become salesmen, per Hackley.

“In two to three weeks on Sundays, we’re going to start having Family Day where we’ll do family style serving after church. I’m going to make the preachers my salesmen a little bit. Each Sunday a different church will save 10% and the proceeds can be used for bereavement, missions, vacation Bible school ... anything like that.”

PMK offers buy one, get one spaghetti dinners on Monday and Friday night is date night; with the purchase of two dinners, couples each receive a complimentary dessert.

A unique concept will be featured at PMK.

Hackley explained, “Every S and P shaker in this place is different. They’re really cool and really different. I want to engage my guests, so if a diners see a set of S and P shaker that they like, they are allowed to have them but they have to trade them out with me. Not with a clear one, but with something they find fun that’s going to add more flavor to the restaurant.”

After the ceremony, guests had an opportunity to sample a good blend of their home-cooked meal items: chicken and dumplings, meatloaf, fried catfish and flounder, mac and cheese and a variety of chicken wings.

Salomonski, whose family has owned the hotel for over thirty years, shared, “I’m beyond excited! I’m honored opening PMK. Everything we’ve done here ... we’ve done with community in mind. Traci is all about community; she just won Volunteer of the Year with the Chamber.”

“We will be keeping a guest book at the front that I want everyone to sign. The rule is: you’re a guest first, family second,” stated Hackley.

Visit Proud Mama’s Kitchen on Facebook to view their menu. PMK is located at 5380 Oaklawn Blvd. Suite A, and the dine-in-hours are currently Monday – Friday from 4:30 pm to 9 p.m.

By Kristi K. Higgins, Staff Writer
Kristi K. Higgins can be reached at 804-722-5162 or
 khiggins@progress-index.com.