HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Lunch hour at Sandston Smokehouse bustles daily with hungry customers with BBQ and brisket on the menu.
“Once they try it once, they’re coming back,” said owner Bobby Haller. “We’ve got a lot of regulars. It's crazy.”
While the eatery hums, one patron quietly goes about his business ignoring the chaos around him.
“Right now I’m getting ready to hook my computer up to my console,” explained Keith Gardner. “I’m here every Friday. I look forward to doing it every day."
Gardner hosts his Jazz Café internet radio show every Friday from the same table.
"We’re going to be doing some Grover Washington and Herbie Hancock," Gardner said.
Blind since birth, Gardner knew he always wanted to DJ.
“If you tell me I can’t do it, I’m going to prove you wrong,” Gardner said.
Cutting edge brail technology allows the 56-year-old to operate his mobile microphone alone.
“We can reach out to everybody,” Gardner said. “You learn one console, you learn them all.”
While dining one night last summer, Gardner asked Haller if he was welcomed to broadcast from his restaurant. Haller didn’t hesitate.
“We let him have his space. We let him do him,” Haller said. “It's booked. He’s got a standing reservation for as long as he wants to come.”
DJ Keith has been a fixture at Sandston Smokehouse ever since.
Maria Haller said Gardner always has a place in their hearts.
“That is Keith’s Corner. That is Keith’s Corner,” Maria Haller said. “If he didn’t come in on a Friday, we’d be devastated. He is like family. He is family.”
Gardner could broadcast from his home in Richmond, but there are perks he can’t find in his kitchen -- like pork rinds.
“I like the restaurant feeling better, because I like to interact,” Gardner explained.
And by broadcasting in public, DJ Keith is hoping to inspire others who think they can’t.
“If I can make someone happy, or bless someone with what I do, then I’m good,” Gardner said.
After three hours on the air, that’s a wrap.
“Oh, I’m good. I’m happy... I wouldn’t trade it in for nothing,” Gardner said. “I’m just living my dream. That is all I’m doing, I’m living the dream.”
DJ Keith will be back at Sandston Smokehouse on Williamsburg Road every Friday from noon to 3 p.m.
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