Jaidah Sizer, Howard University News Service
The Social Kitchen, located in Uptown, Ward 4, Washington D.C. has a mission to cook, eat, and connect with the community around them. They take pride in providing a space where the community can experience it’s a common love for food while fellowshipping with another through a menu with many options! The Social Kitchen has done so much for the community like curating cooking classes and demos, being a revolving door of “pop-up” restaurants and creating social events emphasizing culinary arts.
Nia Ford, the owner of Social Kitchen, said that the motivating factor to build the restaurant was an evolution of an idea. Social Kitchen started as a food truck serving their homemade carrot cupcakes and renting a space in downtown Silver Spring to make their cupcakes. Before establishing the restaurant, Ford was driven to doing it because of the lack of space. That is when the birthing of Social Kitchen began. This was really important for Ford as an entrepreneur and a Black woman. The District of Columbia is ranked as the top city for entrepreneurs, but only 18 percent of business establishments are reported to be owned solely by women. Then, of that 18 percent, only 27 percent are owned by people of color. Ford is now a part of that percentage in Ward 4 located in Washington D.C.
For Ford acquiring the space was to serve the community, have a restaurant, and provide cooking classes. Ford wants her customers to take away happiness and feeling seen. Social Kitchen also acts as a communal space for Ward 4 with neighbors being able to meet each other.
Additionally, Ford is proud to be providing employment opportunities to young people; and also giving them an experience that will sharpen their entrepreneurial skills. The Social Kitchen is where customers turn into a family, which feeds Ford and her spirit.
Schuyler Phillips, 16, is someone who has been heavily influenced by the Social Kitchen. She works for the kitchen as their smoothie barista. She has been working in the kitchen since September 2020 and has already learned a lot. “Yeah, having friends and people around you influence you to do better in your life,” said Phillips.
Phillips shared that not only did Social Kitchen impact her in her leadership skills, but also inspired her to balance all aspects of her life. Ford has been a huge influence in Schuyler’s life as a business owner, Black female, and a good role model that shows it is possible to reach your goals with hard work. Phillips believes that everything she learned at the Social Kitchen will help her towards her goal of becoming an anesthesiologist. She has gained social skills and learned the importance of knowing every part of whatever business or job that she is a part of.
Not only has Ford inspired her workers and community, but also black female entrepreneurs within the Washington D.C. area as well. Alexa Hailes is a health coach, who specializes in behavioral and habit change. Hailes said that Social Kitchen has influenced her personally and professionally in so many ways. “It’s good to see a Black-owned business located in Uptown D.C. that promotes social interaction and discussion,” Hailes, who is from the same area as the business said. According to Hailes, Ford has encouraged her every day by showing her the importance of community. She expressed her admiration for how Ford really takes the name of her restaurant “Social Kitchen” and really evolves it to create a community where it’s surrounded by food, happiness, and connection.
Social Kitchen located in Ward 4 of Washington D.C. has been nothing, but positive to the community around her! Ford loves to tell her community she cares very deeply about that, “Social Kitchen is my happy place.” Ford wants her community to feel seen and heard before they leave out of the door; all whilst, motivating her community to be the best version of themselves every single day.