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Supporting Black-owned food businesses in Greater Chatham

By September 8, 2023September 14th, 2023No Comments
Restaurateurs participating in the Soul Delivered online ordering platform pose at a press conference announcing the app
Restaurateurs participating in Soul Delivered, the community-based delivery service for South Side restaurants

Greater Chatham Initiative is working to put economic growth in its community on track with growth in the greater metropolitan region. In 2022, We Rise Together: For an Equitable & Just Recovery provided the organization with a grant to help restaurants thrive in Chatham, Auburn Gresham, Avalon Park, and Greater Grand Crossing.  

With the funding, Greater Chatham Initiative supported the development of Soul Delivered, a community-based delivery service for South Side restaurants. The website,, allows people to place orders for a variety of local eateries, cutting out third-party delivery services and, in turn, supporting greater customer loyalty and profits for the restaurateurs. Seven restaurants currently participate in Soul Delivered and another 10 are on deck. Participating restaurants have saved an average of $10.76 per order in profits they would have lost if using third-party delivery services.  

While smaller restaurants have a lot to gain by switching to Soul Delivered, their small staffs make adoption of a new platform slower. Because of this, Greater Chatham Initiative is now also offering the tool to mid-sized and larger restaurants to gain traction and market share on the South Side.  

“Making sure we allow our grant recipients to adjust their plans as they learn so that they and we can achieve the greatest impact is an important aspect of our community-led approach,” said Christen Wiggins, program director, We Rise Together. “The way Greater Chaltham Initiative has adapted its marketing of Soul Delivered to better saturate the local market is an example of why we are committed to flexible, community-led grantmaking.”  

Soul Delivered is a semifinalist in the South Side Pitch 2023 competition. To support them, like their video on this page.

Greater Chatham Initiative also runs FoodLab Chicago, an instructional training cohort for restaurants and other food-based companies. An example of FoodLab Chicago’s offerings is the Storytelling and Menu Engineering workshop. Thiry-four local restaurateurs took the free day-long training in July, gaining knowledge to improve their marketing and tweak their menus to attract more customers and increase profitability.  

Restaurateurs learned and traded tips on sharing the personal and cultural stories behind their food so they can better connect with customers in Greater Chatham and across the region. They also learned how to adjust aspects of their menu such as the names of offerings and price points so that sales are brisk and profits sustainable. These changes have helped restaurateurs increase revenues by up to 38 percent.  

“Our Greater Chatham restaurants are a strong economic engine in our community,” said Nedra Sims Fears, executive director, Greater Chatham Initiative. “With We Rise Together’s support of Soul Delivered and FoodLab Chicago, Greater Chatham Initiative is able to support our restaurants with a holistic model of profitability, which includes plate costing, menu engineering, and a cost-saving delivery model.” 

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