Careda’s Caribbean Cuisine Soars Despite COVID-19 Turbulence
Sep 29, 2020 11:36AM
By Nana Ama Addo
As FunTimes continues pursuing our mission to connect the African Diaspora, we revel in the triumphs of Black businesses in Philadelphia during this pandemic
Careda’s Caribbean Cuisine is Philadelphia’s up-and-coming destination for Caribbean dishes. Founded by Jamaican native Careda Brown, this newly opened small business faced difficulty during COVID-19 but persevered and triumphed through hardship. FunTimes learned from Careda the power of operating in an opportune location, how her business managed to adapt to changes brought by the pandemic and ways we can support Black businesses now and in the future.
Careda’s Caribbean Cuisine is housed at the Reading Terminal Market. When COVID took the world by storm, Careda closed the location from March until May. However, this acclaimed and prime destination in Philadelphia, has been the driving force in the success of Careda during COVID. Careda’s Caribbean Cuisine is also the first Caribbean restaurant in Reading Terminal Market, which has been in operation for 150 years. This illustrates the power of breaking barriers and choosing a great location for your business as an important investment.
In describing the ways COVID has altered her business practices, Careda says: “Before COVID, the work environment was more relaxed. Now, we use more plexiglass, take out items, face shields and masks, signage, and more.” In addition, the business put social distancing markers on the ground and enforce other safety procedures.
Careda and her employees have developed health inspector savvy techniques to protect customers and themselves while continuing to carve a niche in the Caribbean restaurant sector.
Careda says she is still fighting to provide the best and fullest menus for her customers: “Because of COVID, there is an issue with getting some menu items but we try to maintain our inventory and keep what we need.” Throughout this pandemic, she has been most concerned about her staff getting COVID, which she describes as a ‘Russian Roulette.’ Thankfully, none of her staff have contracted the virus.
When Careda began applying for grants, she discovered that most grants require businesses to be open for one year minimum to be considered, which puts her business at a disadvantage. However, she received some help paying a small percentage of the rent, even though she anticipates she will need more funds when Philly enters the green phase of COVID. For now, she is working to keep the roof over their heads, maintain inventory and pay staff.
Careda advises Black communities to spend more with Black businesses to keep them alive because it has been difficult for Black businesses, especially young businesses like hers and those with less than five employees, to obtain COVID-related assistance. She says “We have 1.3 trillion in Black buying power and 3% goes to Black businesses. Let’s change that.”
In addition to creating Careda’s Caribbean Cuisine, Careda also birthed Yo Mama’s Kitchen, a Caribbean restaurant which operates at 1459 N 52nd Street. Check out both of these locations. Contact Careda’s Caribbean Cuisine at @CaredasCar on Instagram, at Careda’s Caribbean Cuisine on Facebook, on Reading Terminal Market’s website or via phone call at 267-592-1446. Connect with Yo Mama’s Kitchen on Facebook at Yo Mama’s Kitchen or via phone call at 215-473-2000.
This article was made possible by the Public Media Foundation’s Community Voices Grant.