It's Black History Month, a time when we both celebrate the achievements of African Americans and recognize the large part they play in our nation’s history. Since 1976, every U.S. president has designated February as an official observation of the black heroes from the past to present day.
This month, we’ve elected to spotlight 10 black-owned businesses that demonstrate the entrepreneurial spirit of San Antonio on a daily basis. By patronizing locally owned business, we're not just celebrating our community, we're investing in its future.
“I truly believe that advocating for black businesses gives leverage to communities and future black-business owners," said District 2 San Antonio City Councilmember Jada Andrews-Sullivan, a black business owner herself. "In doing so, we can help set the tone and transcend black business into other industries such as technology, medical, and economic development. Small businesses are a vital part of the global economy, so in supporting small black businesses, we can expand and unite on not only a local level but on a global level as well.”
Al’s Gourmet Nuts
The food artisans at Al’s Gourmet Nuts have been creating delicious nuts since 2000, and owners Albert and Margaret Anaglia go the extra mile to make their products unique. Although they mostly specialize in fundraisers, corporate gifts, and special events, one can patronize the family-owned business on the weekends at the Pearl Farmers Market or schedule an appointment to check out the kitchen.
Ashley Kay Evans
Believe in your selfie all you want, but few things can capture the authentic you better than a professional photographer. Branding and lifestyle photog Ashley Kay Evans began her lens-filled journey in high school after her mother gave her a Polaroid camera as a gift. In fact, Evans says she still has the film photos in a shoebox ... somewhere. From fashion and food to parties and weddings, Evans enjoys serving San Antonians with her talent and passion.
The Big Bib BBQ
From the moment we walk in, it's obvious to any native Texan whether or not a barbecue joint is the real deal. Call it a mutant power, if you will. Stanley Shropshire’s The Big Bib BBQ is very much "the real deal." With two locations in town, Shropshire's doing his part to make sure San Antonio stays well fed with generous portions and, perhaps most importantly, the freedom to choose one's own fixing.
Cheryl E. Davis, D.M.D
In 2006, Dr. Cheryl E. Davis opened her dental practice in Historic Ellis Alley Enclave and has been keeping San Antonians smiling ever since. After earning her Doctor of Dental Medicine degree in 1995, she joined the U.S. Air Force and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan. She held an adjunct professor position at Northwest Vista Community College and also was a dentist at the Bexar County Jail before settling down in a property near the Tower of the Americas. When she isn’t reminding her community to floss, Davis enjoys skiing, hiking, and playing the piano.
Jamaica Jamaica Cuisine
In observance of Black Restaurant Week, which takes place from February 23 through March 1, it feels right to give a shoutout to Jamaica Jamaica Cuisine. Owners Dee and Angello Gordon grew up experiencing the Jamaican culture and lifestyle. After moving to South Texas while in the army, the pair stayed in their adopted hometown after retirement to open a restaurant. Jamaica Jamaica, which now spans two locations, offers Caribbean cuisine and an inspired dining experience offering jerk wings, jerk fries, jerk pizza, and even jerk tacos to let diners experiment, San Antonio-style.
Lewis Funeral Home
There are some types of businesses one doesn’t really think about until they are actually needed. Funeral services are probably at the top of this list. Lewis Funeral Home is a family-owned business that has been serving San Antonians for over a century. In addition to funeral and memorial services, burials and cremations, these experienced folks also offer comfort in often very vulnerable moments.
This East Side eatery has been filling up local bellies with its award-winning burgers since 2005. (It's also just as well known for beans, which are free!) Owner Mark Outing enjoys giving back to his hometown by engaging in a number of community outreach activities. If you're new to the establishment, order up the Original Fatty’s Burger at the top of the menu. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.
Mrs. Kitchen Soul Food Restaurant & Bakery
Garlan L. McPherson grew up watching his grandmother create wonderfully sumptuous meals throughout his childhood. Now, as owner and head chef of Mrs. Kitchen Soul Food Restaurant & Bakery, he has the opportunity to pay homage to the woman who inspired his life’s work. Opening a business on his beloved East Side was a longtime dream. Serving dishes like catfish and fried chicken — along with all the essential Southern sides — is a family tradition and a story that fills many of his patrons with pride.
Olivia Jewell’s Hair Studio
What stands out most about Olivia Jewell’s Hair Studio is the owner’s meticulous attention to detail. Olivia Jewell understands the relationship between the colors of your eyes, skin tone, and hair color. And not only does she specialize in color, cuts, and natural hair, she is an expert of braiding and hair-extension application. After Jewell earned her business administration degree from University of Texas at San Antonio, she joined the Air Force and studied meteorology. After a stint at USAA, she realized that all roads lead back to natural beauty. Jewell keeps San Antonio beautiful — and we appreciate that.
San Antonio Ballet School
In 2016, Danielle Campbell Steans founded San Antonio Ballet School with a goal of inspiring self-discipline in a nurturing environment. The school follows the official American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum and also combines elements from classic French, Italian, and Russian schools. For young dancers who are on a path to a professional dance career, this school offers solid training at a competitive level right here in the Alamo City.