Honoring Black History: Local family-owned business starts legacy through food and faith

Black History Month

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) — There are many African-Americans starting and running successful businesses in the East. A Washington family is doing just that through good food and faith.

Carolina Chicken and Waffles is a Black-owned family business going from a food truck to a brick and mortar location all during the pandemic. While navigating this past year has been difficult as a new business, they’re still paying it forward.

“Everyone loves chicken and waffles. You love chicken or you love waffles or you love them both,” said co-owner Jamerus Payton.

It’s a Southern comfort food restaurant staking out a place in Eastern North Carolina. It’s called Carolina Chicken and Waffles.

“Put them in here, give them a little toss. Everything is seasoned and made with love,” said Frederica Bell of the preparation.

Bell started the business in February 2019 with her six children in their apartment.

“We had a conversation about it leaving a legacy,” she said.

Bell’s son, Payton, saw this kind of cuisine was absent in ENC.

“When you leave the central part of the state, you start crossing over (Interstate) 95, there’s really nobody else offering chicken and waffles,” Payton said.

The family started its food truck business in late 2019. There were a few good months, then COVID-19 hit.

“It caught us off guard as well as everybody, but thanks to our loyal customers,” Bell said.

Bell credits those customers and Greenville’s Food Truck Rodeo for keeping them afloat. However, surviving the pandemic isn’t enough for the Bell family. They knew they had to pay it forward.

“Carolina Chicken and Waffles approached Open Door Community Center,” said Marcia Norwood.

The family turned to the homeless shelter for women and children.

“They offered to bring food to our women and children, and we very much appreciate their generosity and thoughtfulness,” Norwood said.

Nordwood is the center’s executive director. She calls the Bells’ outreach a blessing.

“I think that shows a remarkable group of people that have their sights set on not just themselves but helping the community and helping other people,” Norwood said.

Bell Payton know sometimes people just need a little extra help.

“It’s been some cases if someone hadn’t helped us out, we wouldn’t be where we are now,” said Payton.

Again, survival is not enough for this family. They recently opened a brick and mortar location in Washington. It’s a way to build on the faith and hard work that’s kept them going.

“It’s all because of having that faith of getting up and getting a food truck and its opening up so many doors,” said Jamerus Payton.

This isn’t the only venture for the family. They hope to continue to become a household brand.

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