Veterans serve up love and honor in Virginia

WTU Force Structure Master Sgt. (Ret) Andre "Chef" Rush greets a customer during the grand opening of 2Bros. Soul Food restaurant in Alexandria, Va. (Photo Credit: Veterans serve up love and honor in Virginia)

By Annette Gomes, Warrior Care and Transition

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The sweet smell of sweet potato pie, the crunch of finger licking chicken and a glass of cold iced-tea greet you as you enter the doors of 2Bros. Soul Food Kitchen and Lounge.

The restaurant located in Alexandria, Virginia is the brainchild of Mississippi native, retired U.S. Army Master Sgt. Andre Rush and Virginia natives, Army veteran David Roundtree and his business partner Chris Everette.

After nearly 30 years of combined military service, the partners ventured into the world of business.

"Becoming a business owner was always a dream for me," said Rush, who also serves as the Head Chef. "It's a challenge I've always welcomed. We're bringing southern hospitality to Virginia courtesy of my mother Emma's secret recipes," he said with a smile.

"It definitely keeps you hopping, I've been running since the crack of dawn. I've got plenty of work to do today, there's always something to do," added Roundtree.

After serving nearly 23 years, and sustaining several injuries, Rush retired while Roundtree served four years. Everette did not serve, but was influenced by his partner's work ethic.

"Growing up in the National Capitol Region the military was always prevalent in my life, and something I always admired because of their determined attitude and organizational structure," Everette said. "I've been an entrepreneur for more than 14 years, but given the opportunity to partner with two Army veterans was a win-win situation. Starting a new business is a challenge, but with their Army background they bring a new perspective. Starting 2Bros. Soul Food with them will be a huge success," he said.

"During my time in the Army, I learned that drive, determination and a strong work ethic were common among those that served including family members. Those are the qualities the Army develops and it affects every aspect of your life," Roundtree explained. "Your time spent enlisted will prepare you for challenges that come your way and give you the determination to never quit, ever! The Army gave me that and I've taken that and grown numerous and very successful businesses, it's something they instill in you from day one!"

The business partners also credit the Army Warrior Care and Transition's Wounded Warrior Program for laying the foundation to embark on their business venture. The program helps Soldiers with their recovery and transition process, fostering the Soldier's independence. Together, AW2 Advocates and AW2 Soldiers collaborate to set goals for the Soldiers' and their families' future.

"AW2 made things elementary in a world of confusion. You can get lost in transition but representatives like Fort Belvoir's Army Wounded Warrior Advocate Ayandria Barry is there to help you. The program offers guidance and a support system that is unwavering," said Rush.

"In the process of working with Andre we discussed what he wanted to do once he retired. I knew his background and noticed how he would light up whenever he discussed anything about food or was bringing food to us at the WTB," Barry said. "In our discussion I told him 'whatever you choose to do, make sure it's something you love, nothing else." I give that same speech to every Soldier that comes into my office and is facing retirement. The next chapter is about what you will get out of the bed and do for free." Barry introduced Rush to Everette who at the time was working on opening 2Bros. Soul Food and looking to hire a chef. The pair hit it off and the rest was history.

Rush says opening the doors to their new restaurant was met with love and commitment to honor their fellow Soldiers.

"This is why we held the grand opening during Memorial Day weekend. It was just fitting. I remember a young Soldier, a complete stranger thanked me for my service years ago. He stated if I could get hurt, recover and press on then so could he and that's stayed with me all these years. It's about picking yourself up and knowing there's so much this world has to offer," said Rush.

Everette shares this sentiment and is adamant about the restaurant embracing and reflecting its military roots.

"We are determined to bring the military spirit of structure and drive to our establishment and continue to serve and honor the military at the same time. I say, Hooah!"