Buckhead’s Souper Restauranteur, Jenny Levison, is behind the delicious restaurants “Souper Jenny” (there are 4 locations: Buckhead, Brookhaven, Westside and Decatur) a catering business, two cookbooks, and an inspiring blog. An LA native, Levison inspires community within each of her four restaurants and educates her customers about the power of good food, good vibes, and the importance of giving back. Merging the elements of entertaining and creating an atmospheric home within her restaurants has made countless lasting experiences.
When asked how her first restaurant, Souper Jenny, came to be in 1999, Levison happily shared that, “Souper Jenny was kind of a fluke! I had – like – zero money and that little space became available!”
“I want to provide a peaceful and enjoyable environment, all of my restaurants pretty much look like the inside of my house!” Her staff brims with positive energy, knowing many customers names and even their orders, Levison states that she wants people to “feel like it’s your house, but someone else is cooking for you.” This vision coupled with her incredible customer service has earned Levison a serious following in Buckhead and beyond.
Buckhead.com: Why was Atlanta History Center the perfect spot for Souper Jenny to relocate?
Jenny Levison: “I love uniting people and redefining community. I love the history of Buckhead. I love that I have known my customers for over 16 yrs, watching them grow up and start their own families. The History Center has been so gracious, I’m so happy with our move. We are on target for sales, it’s a very nice space and the parking is great. It has been a great marriage between us and the History Center – we get visitors from all over the world, as well as our regulars who live here.
In addition to providing the sense of community and belonging, Levison also loves educating and empowering customers with their own nutrition.
Buckhead.com: What is your cooking inspired most by?
Jenny Levison: “Growing up in LA, I learned the importance of eating REAL food and using it as medicine to nourish every aspect of the body, to heal your body and prevent illness. My vision is to really educate our customers about why they should eat whole foods, where good food comes from, and how they can get involved with their own cooking, which is so important.
Levison draws cooking inspiration from her travels around the world, naming European, Mediterranean, and Italian cuisine as her favorites. Before opening Souper Jenny, she travelled to different cities, including Thailand and third-world countries, paying close attention to their lifestyle and how cultures approached food. Drawing from the simplicity countries possess within their meals, it alerted Levison to a characteristic she wanted to make sure that Souper Jenny had as well.
“Our recipes and ingredients are simple with whole ingredients. I always cook at home with my family. I think that’s why our places and cooking processes are popular, because they’re so fresh, accessible and not hard to make. I’m a visual person and an artist when it comes to making my food gourmet. I like things to taste good but also be appealing and I love color, the cooks always make fun of me when I add things to a salad or want to see more variety – which is what any dietician will tell you to do – eat the rainbow! I’m still a dork about looking at Pinterest, cookbooks, magazines… Because there’s no idea that’s new, we’re just recreating things and I like to read everything I get my hands on.
Buckhead.com: “How has Souper Jenny has flourished in such a competitive industry since 1999? And what would you say is the best thing about Buckhead’s food scene?”
Jenny Levison: “It’s simple, I believe and strongly practice two principles: service & high quality. We are selective about everything – from the ingredients to our team members and how our customers are treated. I’m pretty hands on, I build the teams but I’m always around. As far as Buckhead’s food scene, I love the variety! There’s so much change happening, but you can pretty much find anything here.”
Buckhead.com: As an entrepreneur, things don’t always go as planned. What inspires you to keep that inner drive and positive outlook?
Jenny Levison: “I love this business. True entrepreneurs are always looking for the next creative idea. But when things happen, you have to admit it (throw a 24-hr pity party) and move on. If there’s no growth, reimagine an idea, for example, we just closed the juice bar, and will try something else in the future. I just keep rolling!”