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Charleston police officers open restaurant

Kenny Kemp
Tim and Autumn Davis offer a variety of burgers, wings, pasta and submarine sandwiches in Roxalana Grill, the restaurant they recently opened in Dunbar. Autumn holds a plate of Rattlesnake Pasta behind a table that holds a Texan burger, mango pineapple and hot wings and Cajun Shrimp and Grits.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Serve, protect -- and feed?

Two Charleston police officers recently added the task of feeding the public to the services they provide when they opened a restaurant in Dunbar. The unusual leap was unexpected, even to them.

It all started when Sgt. Tim Davis was on patrol and spotted a hot dog vendor on Capitol Street selling to the late night bar crowd. Davis thought a food cart would be a smart way to start a little food business, so he looked around for a cart to buy and ended up renting restaurant space instead.

He and his wife, Autumn Davis, also a sergeant in the police department, opened Roxalana Grill in Dunbar in mid-December.

Although impetuous, the decision seemed fortuitous. The man who operated the hot dog cart equipment happened to be a cook. The cart for sale was sitting at his house, which was next door to an empty restaurant available for rent. Abdul Zayeed and his wife, Fatima, both with experience in the food service and hospitality industry, were looking for work.

The small restaurant's location also worked in its favor for the Davises' decision.

"He grew up in Roxalana Hills. He feels like he's home," Autumn Davis said. "He'd always wanted to have a little place and this just felt right."

He attended Dunbar and South Charleston high schools and she graduated from Capital High School.

The restaurant previously contained Thai House, a Mexican restaurant and later a pizza joint.

Tim Davis's love of cooking prompted his desire to open a restaurant. He originally planned to offer mostly burgers, sandwiches and pizzas. Instead, he and Abdul Zayeed, who's cooked at the Charleston Marriot and Embassy Suites and Uno's and Panchos in Teays Valley, developed a more eclectic menu.

The burgers go beyond your run-of-the-mill cheeseburger. Most are half-pound patties gussied up with fixings such as grilled onions and bourbon sauce, bleu cheese or stuffed with cheddar and jalapeno peppers.

Zayeed added pasta dishes such as Cajun Chicken Pasta, Rattlesnake Pasta in a spicy cheese sauce with jalapenos and Portabella Pasta. He tops Cajun Shrimp and Cheese Grits with caramelized red onions and bell peppers.

Wings are sauced in the standard hot and mild flavors as well as mango pineapple, barbecue or bourbon varieties, all house made.

Vegetarian offerings include an artichoke sub, marinara or portabella pastas, quesadillas, lentil soup and portabella burgers.

Burgers and entrees run between $6 and $12. They plan to add more dinner entrees to the evolving menu. Abdul cooks with help from his cousin Joshua Hopkins, and Fatima handles the front of the house. They work long days and into the evening, serving lunch and dinner.

Nearby residents, many repeat customers, say they're pleased to have a dining option nearby, and police and fire department officers naturally frequent Roxalana Grill.

"A lot of officers have come in. We've had great support from them," Autumn Davis said. "They also ask us how we do this and work full time as well. We tell them we don't know, yet. We're taking it day by day."

The Davises each work 12-hour shifts for the Charleston Police Department, usually at opposite times.

"I'm here when I'm not at work," said Tim Davis. "I don't cook here, though, even though I love cooking. We couldn't do it without Abdul and Fatima."

Roxalana Grill, 2059 Roxalana Road in Dunbar, is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Reach Julie Robinson at julier@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.


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