Putting local first: Motor City Match winner is a farm-to-table soul food restaurant that sources locally and hires from the community
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and city leaders held a ribbon-cutting ceremony this week for Detroit Soul, a farm-to-table soul food restaurant in the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood on the city’s east side. The business, marking the 142nd brick-and-mortar opened by Motor City Match, sources food locally to fill a community void for healthier food options and family-friendly dining.
“In opening the location of this soul food restaurant, we aspire to build more community, economic growth and employment within the area,” said Jerome Brown, co-founder of Detroit Soul. “We hope our restaurant will become that third place that you can come – whether you’re a janitor or CEO – and band together as equals while enjoying nostalgic food and conversations.”
Brown and his brother, Samuel Van Buren, were driven by faith to leverage their corporate careers and launch a business aligned with their passion for homemade southern-style cooking and community. In partnership with the nonprofit Jefferson East, Inc., the brothers hosted public engagement sessions with community members before opening their doors, revealing a need for more family-friendly dine-in options and an employer who would hire from within the community.
One hundred percent of Detroit Soul’s staff are Detroit residents and 90% of its food comes from local food producers.
“This whole idea of sourcing food for urban communities ties into our commitment to help our community eat healthy,” Van Buren said. “We want to encourage people to eat well by eating better. Many of these areas have poor health because there is a lack of healthy food options. Detroit Soul brings this healthier twist to soul food, utilizing ingredients that are better for you and less harmful to your health.”
This marks the second location for Detroit Soul, which currently has a restaurant on East 8 Mile Road in Detroit. Their new location resides in the historic Kresge Building Department store, inviting a sense of nostalgia for older patrons and history buffs. The area continues to undergo transformation through revitalization catalytic programs like Motor City Match and the Strategic Neighborhood Fund.
“What Jerome and Samuel are doing here at Detroit Soul is just extraordinary and one of the finest examples of the power of Motor City Match to improve neighborhoods and lives,” said Mayor Duggan. “This is another great addition to the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood, which already is undergoing an impressive revitalization.”
The business, at 14300 E. Jefferson in Detroit, received a $60,000 cash grant from the 18th round of the Motor City Match program. The funding gave Brown and Van Buren the assistance they needed to renovate their business.
“Detroit Soul is a people-centered establishment where community values and collaboration are a top priority,” said Sean Gray, vice president of Small Business Services at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. “They are giving back to our community in a way that uplifts our health and well-being.”
Motor City Match is now accepting applications for its Round 22 awards from December 1 to January 15, 2023, and can be found at https://apply.motorcitymatch.com/submit. The application period was extended by 15 days due to the holiday season. Program officials will also host informational sessions for interested applicants in the coming weeks.
After 21 rounds, Motor City Match has distributed $10.1 million in grants for start-ups and new businesses located throughout the city of Detroit. Through the pipeline of resources provided by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation’s small business teams, more than 1,600 businesses have received assistance along their journey to open their doors. This is all part of the organization’s greater goal to enhance the city’s economic development and beautify its commercial corridors.
Motor City Match continues to grow Detroit’s small-business landscape. Combined with its other small business programming, DEGC is creating a sustainable small business environment that nurtures new concepts and ideas. Motor City Match offers business owners a wide range of assistance in five tracks: Plan, Develop, Design, Cash and Restore. The program helps Detroit entrepreneurs plan, formalize, launch, and grow their business by providing business planning classes, site-selection assistance, financial planning, legal aid, design services, and gap funding.
Through 21 rounds of Motor City Match:
- Total cash grants: $10.1 million (Total leveraged investment: $54.5 million)
- Total business open: 142
- 85 percent are minority-owned businesses
- 74 percent are women-owned businesses
- 68 percent are businesses owned by Detroit residents
About Motor City Match
Motor City Match is a unique partnership between the City of Detroit, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), the Economic Development Corporation of the City of Detroit (EDC) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Competitive financial assistance is supported by a broad partnership of Southeast Michigan community development financial institutions and corporations including, Bank of America, Fifth Third Bank, Ford Foundation, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Foundation, Hudson Webber Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, New Economy Initiative, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Motor City Match applications are available quarterly. More information is available at www.MotorCityMatch.com