Spotlight: Amazing Black-Owned Businesses in Denver (and Aspen and Florida)

In honor of Black History Month, I wanted to present a short list of some of the incredible black owned businesses I have had the privilege of visiting here in Denver. Okay, there’s one from Aspen and one from Florida, too. 😉

Welton Street Cafe

Fathima Dickerson General manager of the Welton Street Cafe. Photo courtesy of Denverpost.com

Flynn and Mona Dickerson opened Welton Street Cafe in the 1990s, and it has become a staple of the Denver Five Points neighborhood. Five Points is rich with black/African-American history, in fact it used to be a frequent stop for jazz greats including Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis. The Dickerson family has been serving up delicious southern dishes with an island flair, a nod to the family’s Virgin Island heritage, for over 20 years. Welton St. Cafe offers an amazing selection of classic soul-food favorites, like fried catfish with greens, pork chops smothered in gravy and onions, and sides of fried okra, beans and rice, and hush puppies. Although I haven’t tried one yet, pates, are one of their specialties – fried pastries stuffed with everything from broccoli and cheese to chunks of sautéed shrimp and cabbage. My favorite? Fried chicken & catfish, mac n’ cheese, collard greens, and their homemade cornbread. Like spicy? Be sure to order a few sides of their hot sauce, perfect for dipping. And if it’s even possible, definitely save room for their peach cobbler. Hungry yet?

My yummy lunch at Welton Street

Jamaican Grill

Picture courtesy of www.jamaicangrilldenver.com

“Denver’s Authentic Jamaican Taste Away from Home.” That is what the sign says outside this colorful, Bob Marley-emblazoned dive where you will taste some of the best jerk chicken of your life. I discovered this place when I returned home from a trip to Jamaica. I was craving some authentic jerk chicken, and I was not disappointed. Other Jamaican dishes offered include goat curry and oxtail, and an amazing pan-fried snapper. Pair your meal with a delicious Jamaican rum punch cocktail and call it a delectable night! My go-to order: Jamaican jerk chicken, rice, beans, and a side of plantains. Ya mon!

Smith & Canon Ice Cream

Curt Peterson is the owner and founder of Smith & Canon Ice cream. Courtesy of 5280.com

Smith & Canon was opened just a few years ago by former stay-at-home Dad, Curt Peterson, who named the shop after his two young daughters. The store sells Philadelphia-style ice cream, an egg-free version that particularly lends itself to an amazing variety of flavors: Strawberry habanero (“strawbanero”), Thai iced tea, and a spicy chocolate called El Chupacabra are just a few of Peterson’s innovative creations. My personal favorite? Two words: Foxy Brown, a cheesecake cinnamon roll flavor. Talk about heaven in your mouth! Peterson’s specialty however, is the coffee + ice cream combo, or affogato (an Italian dessert consisting of ice cream and espresso). You can also order a nitro coffee ice cream float (yum!). The shop is currently offering pick-up and delivery of ready made pints, quarts, and gallons. We’ll take one of each!

Genna Rae’s Wings & More

Photo courtesy of gennaraeswings.com

Originally from the Virgin Islands, Genn came to the States to pursue a career as an auto mechanic. Thankfully for all of us, he changed courses and founded Genna Rae’s Wings and More, which showcases his amazingly saucy and delicious fresh-cooked wings. The menu also features yummy Southern comfort food items, like a brisket dinner with coleslaw and sweet potato salad. I recommend their Jerk Chicken sandwich. Genn is hoping to expand the menu in the future to include island-inspired dishes reflective of Trinidad and Tobago cuisines.

TK’s Surf and Turf

Photo courtesy of thedenverchannel.com

Although I haven’t had the opportunity to try TK’s yet, it is definitely next on the list! Tyler Kanwai, or “TK,” had the guts to open up a brand new restaurant in the middle of a pandemic. Noticing there were no other black-owned seafood restaurants in the area, he took a chance and opened up his Surf and Turf Kitchen off Havana and Dartmouth. His risk paid off. I’ve heard nothing but good reviews so far, and with such mouth-watering menu items like lobster and beef sausage alfredo, is it any wonder people can’t get enough of this seafood-themed comfort food? 

Mawa’s Kitchen in Aspen

Mawa McQueen, owner of Mawa’s Kitchen in Aspen

Aspen holds a very special place in my heart, I discovered Mawa’s Kitchen this summer after a backpacking trip. Mawa McQueen is the chef and owner of this Aspen restaurant, which features fresh and elegant foods inspired by her Parisian upbringing and her Ivory Coast heritage. French tartines with ham and brie or smoked salmon make a perfect light lunch. I joined for brunch (offered on the weekends) which was spectacular. The menu features delicious fresh squeezed juices (I gave the green juice and the carrot + ginger juice a try), they gave me life after my 20 mile hike! My classic brunch dilemma is always whether to go sweet or savory? I had to go with both in this scenario – the bourbon rustic French toast and the Mawa’s Benedict with Maine smoked salmon. Delicious! McQueen has a passion for providing healthy, organic, locally sourced ingredients and it is evident across the menu. She also owns The Crêpe Shack, which is in Snowmass Village – that’s next on the list when I’m back in Aspen. Bon appetit!

Brunch and juices at Mawa’s

Coffee at the Point

Photo courtesy of coffeeatthepoint.com

Located in the Five Points neighborhood, this place actually has a lot more than coffee going on. While they do offer a great selection of classic coffee shop favorites and teas, they also have a food menu and a fine selection of craft wine and beer. This is one of my go-to spots to post up and get some work done. Their food menu includes amazing and healthy bowls, such as the Southwest Chorizo Bowl, with spicy chorizo, greens, red quinoa, peppers, and avocado-yum, yum, yum! What’s more, Coffee at the Point donates 95% of its seating space to nonprofits that need a welcoming and quiet place to meet. Delicious food, drinks, AND giving back to the community? Yes, please. 

Be a Good Person

Julian Donaldson holds a graduate degree in graphic design and used his skills to co-found the clothing line, Be a Good Person. That exact phrase is featured in a bold, clean font on sweaters, face masks, leggings, tops, hats, and more. Be a Good Person was developed with one goal in mind – to spread positivity. A portion of all sales is donated to the Make a Wish Foundation. How’s that for practicing what you preach?

4 Your Eyes Only Esthetics

Owner and founder, Ashley Simone Knight. Photo courtesy of youreyesonlyesthetics.com

Located off 17th, 4 Your Eyes Only offers a full line of facial skin care services, from waxing to eyelash extensions. Ashley Simone Knight is the owner, founder, and resident esthetician providing these services. I added the Glo Kit to my skincare routine this year (I love the Vital C). If Ashley’s glowing skin in that picture doesn’t convince you that she knows what she is doing, I don’t know what will!

Glo & Lash Denver

This is a serene Day Spa located off Steele Street. It is owned by Rochelle Bara, a microblading and permanent makeup specialist. It takes a lot for me to trust someone with my eyebrows and Rochelle is my go-to for brow waxing and tinting. The spa also offers teeth whitening, waxing, body massage, and a tempting menu of facials, like an Herbal Infusion version and a Glo Peach fanny facial! If you’re in need of a day of pampering, this is the place for you. 

Bar Helix

The eye-catching bar at Helix. Photo courtesy of cntraveler.com

Kendra Anderson’s RiNo bar is a sparkly and delightful place to pass the evening. Specialty cocktails include the Negroni and its seasonal variations, like the NYE Negroni: campari, spiced pear liqueur, thyme and sage simple syrups, and a splash of cranberry juice. That’s probably Helix in a nutshell. Order a plate of charcuterie or a serving of caviar with pringles, or even champagne & tater tots. Unexpected pairings and brilliant atmosphere are what set this place apart from the rest. It’s a complete #vibe

Nativ Hotel & Lounge

Street view of Nativ Hotel & Lounge. Photo courtesy of www.orbitz.com

Amin Suliaman is the man behind Nativ Hotel & Lounge, a happening spot for nightlife in Denver. Apart from offering a place to stay the night for visitors to the city, Nativ has a boutique lounge and nightclub with full bottle service and an all-day happy hour little bites menu, Sunday brunch is my preference. Nativ is the spot when you’re in the mood to dress up and let loose on a Friday night. When the bars open back up, you’ll definitely want to be seen here.

MAM Couture

Wearing Mam Couture – Rapids hoodie

Rashad Randoph started his streetwear boutique from the ground up: saving pennies, printing t-shirts, and eventually teaching himself to sew and produce the first samples that would become the casual chic style of MAM. The brand features unisex tops and jackets with unique prints and materials that give the line a high-end, but accessible feel. 

Sweat Equity

Jace Davis’s mission statement from Sweat Equity Facebook Page

Jace Davis is a former NFL player and now uses his skillset to train young athletes at his Sweat Equity gym. I met Jace while training for football during my LFL days. His athletes have their sights on D1 scholarships. He offers training packages and a free consultation to determine the best program for you child or children. 

The AWF Brand

The Bachelorette rose legging by AWF Brand

This is not a local company, but I had to list it. Based out of Gainesville, Florida and founded by Alex Wheat Jr, they make THE most amazing workout pants: they’re comfortable, durable, and make your booty look awesome. You can find them on Instagram here.

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