Building Black Business in the Heartland
(Omaha World- Herald) — Four years ago, Patricia Barron was a woman with a plan. After 40 years of work that included a stint in the military, three decades at a phone company and a five-year tenure in sales, she figured it was time to focus on the dream she’d had since she was a little girl growing up in north Omaha: opening a restaurant. She saved her money and took out a loan, found a good location in the former cafeteria of the Nebraska School for the Deaf and opened Big Mama’s Kitchen. She hoped there was a big enough demand for her old-fashioned cooking — oven-fried chicken, cornbread, sweet potato cheesecake — to make it work. The risk paid off. Today, Barron has a dozen employees, a growing customer base across Omaha and plans to expand the Big Mama’s brand. Her sweet potato pie ice cream is now sold in one Omaha Hy-Vee, and she’s looking into packaging her popular “Afro” burgers for retail sale. Her story is one local economic development leaders say they’d like to see replicated by other black business owners.