Chef Quiana Broden squealed with pure joy several times Friday morning at the grand opening of her vegan cafe and educational kitchen in New Center.
The Kitchen by Cooking with Que was welcomed to the neighborhood with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by area business owners, friends and family, politicians and members of the Motor City Match program. The group awarded Broden with $60,000 to help with her dream business, which has been four years in the making.
“Everything here is healthy and we make it fresh for you every single day,” Broden said Friday morning at the grand opening, which included a visit from Mayor Mike Duggan, City Council President Brenda Jones and City Council President Pro-Tempore Mary Sheffield.
“The whole purpose of us creating this is to teach people how to eat to live by introducing more plant-based foods, because the healing for our entire country is in the food that we eat,” said Broden, who decked out her cafe in bright white, and green and orange, the colors of kale and carrots.
“We have to be smarter and know where our food came from to know what you’re getting. So never come to the Kitchen and expect Que to be making fried chicken, because I’m going to be like ‘who sent you?'”
The Kitchen is the next step in Broden’s Cooking with Que business. She’s a blogger and podcaster, and also runs a website with videos and recipes. She launched the “Eat to Live” foundation to educate the community, especially young people, about making better lifestyle choices.
Her new cafe offers smoothies, sandwiches and salads, all which are 100 percent vegan and free of animal products. She will serve tacos made with cauliflower sauteed in buffalo sauce with greens and avocado salsa on a four tortilla, an “earth bowl” with sweet potatoes, black beans, corn, mushrooms, quinoa and kale and a roasted vegetable sandwich.
Broden, a Detroit native who graduated from Cody High School, will use her kitchen to educate others on plant-based living. She’ll also rent out her space to food entrepreneurs who are just starting out.
“Que is just really amazing, with her passion to bring good food and teach people about good food,” said Dr. Velonda Anderson, a nutritionist, professor and owner of Sweet Potato Delights. She attended the grand opening event Friday and plans to team up with Broden on the educational side of her new business.
“Small business development is a team sport,” said Pierre Batton of the DEGC at the opening Friday morning. “It takes an entrepreneur like Que that has grit and tenacity and can preserver through everything.”
The Kitchen is among other businesses in New Center that were assisted by Motor City Match grants, including Yum Village Afro-Carribean cafe, Ferne Detroit clothing store and nearby Banner Sign Company. The program, which has served more than 1,3000 businesses, is a partnership between the city, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, Economic Development Corporation of the City of Detroit and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“About five years ago if you came down (to New Center), every single storefront was empty … plywood, closed up, it seemed hopeless,” said Duggan. “But when we started Motor City Match … the city council backed this from day one and said what if we took those vacant storefronts and made them sites of dreams.”
Duggan said the program offers financial assistants to those with the talent to run a business but may not have the money that “people who grew up in a more privileged area might have had access to.”
The mayor also addressed a recent issue with the Motor City Match program, which was under federal review. HUD questioned the eligibility or appropriateness of Detroit’s use of federal funds.
“We got a little bit of criticism about the program, we got some things we have to clean up, we’re going to get them solved quickly,” he said. “In other cities that would have been a major fight. In the city of Detroit the mayor and council got together and said oh no, this program is too important, the dreams of folks like Que are too important. We’re going to make sure it keeps on going.”
Broden encourages anyone who wants to start a business to “do the work.”
“I have been a working mom my whole life and this is the first time i worked for myself,” said Broden, who said she received her first $100,000 from the Detroit Development Fund and also had to apply more than once to Motor City Match.
“I asked, what can I do better,” she said. “I asked the questions. And if you don’t ask the questions you don’t know, and the knowledge is out there for free.”
The Kitchen by Cooking with Que is open for lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tues.-Fri. and also 4-8 p.m. Friday evenings for a “community wind down.” Find it at 6529 Woodward in Detroit. Call (313) 462-4184 or visit cookingwithque.com/thekitchen.
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