By: Tadi Abedje
The month of August has been a celebration of Black businesses as they are the bedrock of Black communities and America.
According to an Annual Business Survey published in 2018, 124,551 employer firms were owned by African Americans.
One of those Black-owned businesses is Granddaddy’s Skillet, which is known for its mouthwatering soul food. Their specialties include fried fish sandwiches, Granddaddy’s King Wings, Deacon Reid’s Meatloaf, Ma Led’s Turkey Wings, Beulah’s Salmon Cakes and their Kale & Quinoa Bowl.
The restaurant was opened in February 2021 in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic by Roxanne David and her husband, Andre.
“It (the opening) was very overwhelming because I wasn’t expecting the onslaught of people that came. I was anticipating it but wasn’t expecting that much volume of customers and didn’t really realize how many people have been following our journey with all the different hurdles that we had to go over,” Roxanne David said. “Our opening was very overwhelming, and we recovered from it.”
For Roxanne David, being in the culinary business has been a part of her DNA since she was a child. Also, her grandfather, Percy Ledbetter, was known to cook. In 1921, he and his brothers moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from Clayton, Alabama, to work in the steel mills because it was an opportunity to financially support themselves.
It was during that time he started to cook, and then an opportunity opened for him to create Percy’s Soul Food through a friend of his.
“He opened it and started having pan-fried fish and it just took off like wildfire,” she said.
The similarities between Percy’s Soul Food and Granddaddy’s Skillet are the pan-fried fish and the big cast iron skillets. Also, there is Granddaddy’s sauce and a family-oriented working environment.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on businesses across the country. According to a McKinsey & Company survey, at least 40% of minority-owned businesses have added extra support services for their employees and communities.
Granddaddy’s Skillet is following CDC safety guidelines such as social distancing.
“We don’t really get people to come in here with any issues. At first, people were very skeptical and didn’t want to stand near each other, but once they [saw] that we’re very sanitary, that we take care of things and that we’re observing the guidelines, it didn’t affect us that much,” said Roxanne David.
She believes that Black-owned businesses such as hers are important to the Black community and to the country.
“A lot of Black businesses don’t offer alcohol, a lot of them don’t have the profanity, a lot of them have very gourmet menus. It’s important for us to remember that every ethnicity has something to offer. The Black community, especially soul food restaurants, are a staple in communities and have been for years,” she said.
Granddaddy’s Skillet is important to David and her family to keep her grandfather’s legacy alive.
“If you look at that picture up there on that wall, you can see that he’s very happy. I believe that he’s smiling and he’s up there in heaven with the Lord and I believe that he believes that we’re doing our best to represent him and to represent branding and to represent what he wanted to present in 1921,” she said.