port of harlem magazine
mike jones state farm
New Black-Owned Eateries Open in Chicago and Gary
June 6 – June 19, 2019

one eleven - chicago

One Eleven is the hall’s name. It’s located at 756 E. 111th Street in the 111th Street Gateway Retail Center on Chicago’s South Side, about 25 minutes from Gary and 20 minutes from the forthcoming Obama Presidential Library in Chicago.

The hall features three restaurants: Majani Soulful Vegan Cuisine, Laine’s Bake Shop, and Exquisite Catering and Events. What makes this hall extra special is that all three food eateries are Black owned, Laine’s and Exquisite are also woman owned.

Additional new Black-owned eateries opened in Gary, Foody’s Carryout and J’s Breakfast Club. The latter is also woman-owned. All five restaurants are minutes off Interstate 80/94.

The One Eleven food hall concept is a manifestation of “cooperative economics,” a way for Black entrepreneurs to pool resources and share costs. This particular development is important in that it gives Black entrepreneurs, in a Black neighborhood, opportunity to capitalize on the growth and development anticipated from a monument commemorating a very important chapter in the history of Black people: The Pullman rail car factory and neighborhood.

Pullman porters were exclusively Black until the 1960’s and have been credited with helping to develop the Black middle class in America, under the leadership of A. Philip Randolph. Randolph was the architect of the March on Washington movement, which called for “jobs and justice,” for Black people. With this new development Black entrepreneurs have more opportunity to create those jobs.

The three chefs at One Eleven are getting a boost from Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, a local nonprofit that “seeks to revitalize neighborhoods and create jobs by developing high impact projects, providing financial resources to entrepreneurs and sustaining long-term community partnerships.”

At Foodys, owner John Allen went to the ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen to learn about the business side of operating a restaurant. Bloomberg Philanthropies is one of the funders to the project. 

While Foody’s has limited seating it is around the corner from Michael Jackson’s boyhood home at 621 W 25th Avenue, off the Broadway North exit. Also off the Broadway exit, but to the south is J’s Breakfast Club, near Indiana University Northwest at 3669 Broadway. Gary Micro-Enterprise Initiative provided the owner some assistance.

All five restaurants are independently owned and serving food deserts, but their good, diverse, healthier food offerings will make traveling along Interstate 80/94 in Metro Chicago that much more gastronomically safer and liberating.
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