FYI Philly celebrates Black business owners, from chefs to bakers to fashion designers

Monday, February 28, 2022
FYI Philly: Celebrating Black business owners across the region
TaRhonda Thomas and Tamala Edwards host a new FYI Philly shining a spotlight on Black-owned businesses in Philly and beyond.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- TaRhonda Thomas and Tamala Edwards host a new FYI Philly on Feb. 26, shining a spotlight on Black-owned businesses in Philly and beyond.

Thunder Mug Cafe: Winner of Philadelphia 76ers Buy Black Program

Drop into Thunder Mug Cafe for a coffee and a Danish and you'll find devoted customers who come for the food and the conversation.

The cafe is the lifelong dream of owner Lizette Apy, an empty nester from Chicago who relocated to Philadelphia to be near her daughter.

She opened the shop 2.5 years ago and it quickly became known for its baked goods; crumb cake, quiches, croissants, beignets and hand pies that come in cheesesteak, spinach and feta, and chicken curry flavors.

The menu is a collection of her favorite things.

And the Thunder Mug name is old-fashioned slang for a chamber pot, a term Lizette grew up hearing from her great grandmother who lived to be 114.

A sign on her front door proudly proclaims it's a Black-owned business and thanks to her new partnership with the Philadelphia 76ers, she's gotten what she calls 'an unbelievable amount of exposure" and advice from the Sixers' entire marketing team.

And she says, "I get to go to some games!"

Thunder Mug Cafe | Facebook | Instagram Philadelphia 76ers Buy Black Program

4233 Ridge Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19129


The Sustainable Farm connects people to food they eat

At The Sustainable Farm by Custom Cuisine, Chef Christina McCoy is cultivating an indoor vertical farm right inside the historic Reading Terminal Market with all kinds of herbs, greens and various vegetables growing up the walls of her tiny shop.

She's also created a farm-to-skincare line, using the herbs grown right in the store.

And she uses her space to boost other local businesses, particularly women of color.

She carries the candles, incense, body butter and oils of eight other Black women makers.

A trained chef, McCoy became an entrepreneur after the birth of her daughter nearly seven years ago, and she turned to farming after her own battle for good health.

She lost nearly half her body weight and realized that eating fresh, organic real food was the solution but that access and affordability was the problem, particularly in the West Philadelphia neighborhood where she's from.

So now she grows her own. You can buy her organically grown herbs and veggies to eat but her real goal is to show you how to grow your own.

McCoy carries traditional herb gardens with non-GMO seeds and mini hydroponic kits that come with an integrated app that will give you prompts on caring for your plants.

And if you have no outdoor space and therefore no pollinators, McCoy says you can be the bee and pollinate the plant by hand and she'll show you how.

The Sustainable Farm by Custom Cuisine | Facebook | Instagram

Reading Terminal Market, Suite D5

12th & Arch Streets, Philadelphia, Pa. 19107

Cray Taste brings Southern cuisine, brunch and DJs to Old City dining

In colloquial terms, 'cray' is short for 'crazy', but for owner and Executive Chef Saquan Howard, he says it also represents his mission -- creativity, revolutionary, artistry, and youth.

The native New Yorker has been catering and personal cheffing for decades, opening his original Cray Taste near Temple University four years ago.

Just before the pandemic, 'Chef Smiff' acquired the new location and now his loyal foodies are following him there.

Southern cuisine is on the menu at both locations, adding a Sunday brunch at Old City that is an especially big draw, with a DJ spinning tunes and flowing mimosas from the bar.

Cray Taste Old City | Instagram | Facebook

118-22 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106


Cray Taste (North Philadelphia)

3865 N. 7th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19140


hours: Thursday-Friday 3-11pm, Saturday 12-11pm, Sunday brunch 12-6pm

Southside opens as Bynum bros' latest venture in Southern dining

Philadelphia's famed -Bynum brothers, Benjamin and Robert, have just unveiled a new event and catering space they call Southside.

Benjamin says the venue can accommodate anywhere from 50-150 guests.

Southside is an extension of their flagship jazz club South on North Broad Street.

The duo looked to South's menu for inspiration with dishes like the braised pork tender beef short ribs and the deviled eggs with angry mama chips.

The plates pay homage to Southern cuisine.

The Bynums have been a celebrated part of Philadelphia's jazz and dining scene for more than three decades.

Their father, the late Benjamin Bynum Sr., has always been the inspiration as the pair operated places like Zanzibar Blue and Warmdaddy's.

Southside Event & Catering | Instagram

1410 Mount Vernon Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19130

Kamryn Reynolds started her baking career when she was just 4 years old! Now she's selling her baked goods all over Philly.

This 'Lil Baker' is only 8 years old with her own business

Kamryn Reynolds started her baking career when she was just 4 years old.

She started selling premade mixes of cookies and brownies, which she called Kammy Kakes, so kids like her could easily bake at home.

Now at 8-years-old, she renamed her business Lil Exclusive Bakery and fulfills fully baked cookie and brownie requests that come from her dad's website

Kamryn says she found her love of baking through her father and he's the person who inspired her to start her own business at such a young age. Her favorite thing to bake are her Chocolate Chop Toffee Cookies.

Pound Cake Heaven's is a heavenly slice of dessert goodness

Follow your eyes to the bright pink sign and your nose to that sweet aroma, and you'll find yourself in Poundcake Heaven with Pam Thornton at the Pearly Gates.

Known as The Cake Lady, she'll serve it to you by the round or the slice.

She has nearly three dozen flavors to choose from but she is most famous for her sour buttercream. It is the cake that started it all and remains the signature flavor.

Pam started Pound Cake Heaven in 2012 after a civilian career in the Navy and decades of seeing every party invite come with a request that she bring a cake.

With shops in Kensington and Yeadon, it is now a four-generation family affair and a full-blown bakery with her mom serving as pie-maker, her daughter a baker and banana pudding maker and her brother the head baker at the Kensington location.

While designer cakes are their forte, they offer everything from pies and pudding to cookies and brownies, with a greater mission of keeping what Pam calls the 'dying legacy' of scratch baking alive.

She leads decorating classes too, and if you become a member of the Pound Cake of the Month Club, you'll get to taste a different flavor every month and get a cake on your birthday.

Pound Cake Heaven | Facebook | Instagram

712 Church Lane, Yeadon, Pa. 19050


3415 Kensington Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa. 19134


Bikes By Design focused on customizing your ride

In Northern Liberties a new bike shop is putting the fit in fitness.

Whitney Thomas and his wife Kishawna Thomas have partnered with Phil Greene opening Bikes By Design, a shop focused on customizing your bike to provide the best experience for any level rider.

The business was born when Whitney and Kishawna were shopping for a bike and couldn't find something they liked for her. They asked Phil to build her bike. When he said yes, the conversation turned to why can't this be done for everyone?

Bikes By Design opened in November 2021 hoping to answer that question.

The shop offers all bike services from tune-ups on any bike to full custom builds for professional riders. They have a wall of pre-produced bikes that can be bought "off the rack" or you can get on the trainer and find the perfect fit for your bike needs.

They offer road bikes, mountain bikes, gravel bikes and hybrid options. They buy the frames direct from the manufacturer limiting the cost of expensive brand names and they also keep the cost down by doing all the custom work in house.

Bikes By Design | Instagram

1024 North 3rd Street, Unit 401, Philadelphia, PA 19123

Designer Prajje Oscar puts fancy fashions at the forefront in Philly

Haitian-born designer Prajje Oscar Jean-Baptiste is known for his glamorous gowns.

Fresh off an appearance on Season 19 of Project Runway, the style maven is making Philly the base for his global design house, Atelier Prajje Oscar.

His chic designs are bold and colorful, and his story is inspiring.

Atelier Prajje Oscar | Instagram | Facebook

Atelier Prajje Oscar

1400 N. American Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107


Civil Rights icon Richard J. Watson debuts new exhibit at AAMP

As we celebrate Black History Month, we're taking you to the African American Museum in Philadelphia, where the works of an icon and civil rights crusader are on display.

Portals and Revelations: Richard J. Watson Beyond Realities is the creative evolution of the museum's Artist-in-Residence.

"It's a continuum, from my past and some of my exposures to contemporary issues, social and political and personal," says Richard J. Watson, who's also the Exhibition's Manager.

Much of his work documents his youth in North Carolina after the death of his mother.

Portals and Revelations is on display through March 6th.

African American Museum in Philadelphia | Facebook | Instagram

701 Arch Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106