Bill Wharton cooks at the Canal Club; Strawberry Street Café celebrates its 25th anniversary


Meet Bill Wharton, gumbo man. Also known as the Sauce Boss. Parrotheads have probably heard of Wharton through the song Jimmy Buffet wrote about him called “I Will Play for Gumbo.”

Wharton is a blues guitarist who knows the gig has its limitations. You gotta have a gimmick. Wharton’s is gumbo. He cooks a big pot of the spicy stuff onstage, and hands out a taste test to the audience after his set.


Wharton’s backing band is fittingly named the Ingredients. They play simple electric-blues songs, familiar tunes with names like “All That Meat and No Potatoes.” Forget “Dust My Broom”: Listen to the Sauce Boss’s “Wash My Spoon”!

Oh, brother. Well, remember that it’s just innocent fun when the Sauce Boss cooks at the Canal Club in Shockoe Slip next Thursday, April 26.

Strawberry Street Café is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month and it would be thoughtless of us not to tell you about it. Through the entire month of April, fans of the time-honored restaurant can drop by and reel in the years, in the discounts and giveaways and in the bathtub salad bar, which has been a fixture the entire quarter century. The original owner, mindful of the salad-bar craze and too broke to get one, got an old clawfoot bathtub and refinished it into what we see today.

It would also be thoughtless of us not to point out that there are probably many Richmonders who will not be celebrating with Strawberry Street Café since they feel that its owners are responsible for muscling out their beloved Price’s Market. We mention this just because we have to give both sides, being objective journalists and everything.


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