Warming the Soul

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Soup 22 Will Serve Lynchburg Community One Bowl at a Time

There’s something about a steaming bowl of soup that makes one feel all warm inside, literally and figuratively. This summer, Michelle Ayers is bringing that feeling to downtown Lynchburg with her new soup shop, Soup 22.

The significance of Soup 22’s name goes beyond the year it’s being opened. Twenty-two is a very special number in Ayers’ life: it’s her birthday and the opening day of Soup 22, June 22. Throughout her life, the number has been a sign that she is on the right track.

“Twenty-two has kind of been a confirmation between God and me,” Ayers said. “Any time I’m struggling or overwhelmed, God kind of shows me confirmation in twenty-twos. It’s just always been a positive thing for me to know to keep moving forward and keep pursuing my dreams.”

One of her longstanding dreams has been to open a soup shop.

soup 22 owner

“I’ve just always wanted to have a soup shop,” she noted. “Out of everything I’ve done, this is probably the thing I’ve been wanting to do for the longest time.”

Ayers is no stranger to the food business; it has been a part of her life for the past 20 years. She has owned a couple restaurants and continues to run Purple Door Gourmet Kitchen and Catering here in Lynchburg.

Faithful customers of Ayers will notice some similarities between Purple Door and Soup 22: sandwiches, salads, mini charcuterie boxes, and desserts will be offered to accompany the soups.

“There will be a feel of Purple Door, an extension of Purple Door,” she said. “I think when people come in and taste the food and recognize the style, they’re definitely going to think of Purple Door.”

Twenty types of soups will be available year-round, from chicken noodle to Brunswick stew. Some fundamental soups will be on the menu regularly, along with soups that will be switched out depending on the season. During the summer, chilled soup options will be available.

No matter what they order, customers will be able to get their food fast with Soup 22’s grab-and-go setup. Additionally, customers will be able to place orders online and pick them up at the shop.

“Everything is going to be made fresh every morning, but in a grab-and-go style,” noted Ayers. “That’s going to take up a good part of the floor space. I want us to be able to serve a lot of customers and serve them quickly.”

After having lived downtown for eight years, the area holds a special place in Ayers’ heart.

“It lends itself to good street traffic and walking traffic, which I think will be really good for the residents downtown,” she said. “People who work downtown will be able to stop and get soup on their way back to their offices.”

Another reason Ayers chose the downtown location was its proximity to Lynchburg Daily Bread. Soup 22 will be providing more than just soup: one dollar from every soup sale will be donated to the nonprofit, which serves free lunch to those in need seven days a week. Ayers has seen the positive effects that have come from Daily Bread.

“They serve a lot of different purposes,” she noted. “There are a lot of things that go into running an organization like that. I think that raising money for them—and not just giving them food—will be very helpful.”

Ayers hopes to see Soup 22 have a positive impact on the Lynchburg community. She is looking forward to seeing customers warm up with a cup of soup on chilly fall and winter days in the future.

“Soup is a comfort food,” she said. “It literally warms the soul.”


By Ellowyn Steele | Photos by Ashlee Glen

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