While the Stonecrest venue will have space for more than 100 retail operators, food will play a significant role. Space has been earmarked for 17 food and dining concepts that include a full-service grocery store, three anchor restaurants, a co-op bakery and a dozen food hall stalls.
The grocery store, restaurants and food stalls are expected to open in early 2022. Meanwhile, the bakery is operating, and weekend pop-up events bring food vendors whose concepts range from fried catfish to wellness-minded smoothies to rolled ice cream.
Behind the bakery counter, Icing on the Cake owners Sal Bando and his wife, Kezmit Columbus, stayed busy selling weekend shoppers Bando’s red velvet cheesecake and Key lime pie cupcakes. Bando came out of retirement four years ago to turn his baking hobby into a licensed cottage business. The couple view participation in the New Black Wall Street Market not only as an opportunity to grow their company, but also to be part of “something that is going to be history,” Columbus said. “We want to be part of something, part of the neighborhood,” she said.
“I really like the energy,” said Keon Hardeman, owner-baker of Cakes by Keon. Hardeman currently has a store located off Candler Road just south of I-20 in Decatur. In addition, he sells his designer cakes and cupcakes to a handful of restaurants. But he sees potential in having a presence at the Stonecrest site, particularly since the closure of a nearby Sam’s Club location in 2018. “They were doing 500 cakes a day,” he said. “I feel like the people will come here.”
When construction on the food hall is complete, one of the stalls will bear YOL Juice Market signage, marking the next stage in owner Alisha Williams’ 2-year-old business specializing in smoothies, salads and wellness shots. Until now, Williams was selling her products exclusively to restaurants.
“We’re in a food desert. She is helping us make it healthier,” said New Black Wall Street Market director Matt Hampton, who also lives in the area.
The market has space in the rear of the building dedicated to pop-up vendors. “Some people are ready for full-time residency here. Others are pop-ups, some on consignment in the grocery store,” Hampton said. “We’re trying to scale food businesses and see people grow at various levels.”
That includes young entrepreneurs like Cecil W. Brown, 18, who recently launched rolled ice cream concept Rolls of Flame with a cart at Stonecrest Mall. He and his younger brother, Antoine Moon, stayed busy at a recent New Black Wall Street Market pop-up fashioning the frozen sundry into upright rolls and drizzling the dessert with chocolate sauce. “The people go for it,” said the younger Moon.
Hampton’s own daughter, Madysen Hampton, 19, dished out loaded nachos and sweet apple-filled fried egg rolls that fuse her Black, Southern and Filipino roots. Although Hampton is a student at Kennesaw State, her concept, Dang Masarap (masarap means “delicious” in Tagalog), will make periodic appearances at the marketplace’s pop-ups.
Plenty of local Black-owned brands will see permanent space on the shelves of Aaron’s Gourmet Market. The full-service grocery store will offer a deli, grab-and-go cases, fresh produce, frozen items, pantry staples, wine and more.
“Our goal is to see minority businesses grow, show these folks how to do this, and get them into the Krogers of the world, and see that talent go as far as it can,” said Hampton. “Our job is to develop these entrepreneurs so they can scale it on a national level.”
And he hopes to create a thriving dining scene for nearby residents.
“We don’t have a classy place,” Hampton said. “This far east, the food scene is a diminishing value. We gotta go all the way to Decatur to get good food.”
The new year will see the debut of three sit-down restaurants — soul food concept Big Mama’s Porch, the Pink Lions Jazz Club with live entertainment, and Gumbo Cafe. The latter, located near the entrance to the shopping center, will offer a full bar and seat up to 125 inside plus more on a patio.
New Black Wall Street Market. 8109 Mall Parkway, Stonecrest. newblackwallstreet.co. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Fridays-Sundays through Nov. 28. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays beginning Nov. 30.
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