CHICAGO—The Foodies’s Spot is back! The Muslim-owned restaurant anchored in the community and serving delicious and nutritious food is set to reopen Oct. 10 in the Windy City.
The two-year-old restaurant, located at 7350 South Stony Island Avenue, just across the street from the Nation of Islam’s flagship Mosque Maryam in the South Shore neighborhood, has undergone extensive renovation, and expanded its hours but the good food it is known for remains the same.
Restaurant owner Carmela Muhammad is excited about the reopening and bringing positivity to the community in more ways than one. “This is the two year anniversary of the Foodie’s Spot and we were blessed to be able to get some funding in order for us to renovate,” she said. “And this is really for the people. So, they can have somewhere real nice and clean and eat.”
“I would like to thank Brother Abdul Akbar (Kurt Cargle) from Neighborhood Laundry, with seven locations in Chicagoland area, for all the help he has given The Foodie’s Spot and in helping with the rebuilding of South Side communities,” added Sister Carmella. The revamped restaurant includes new tables for eat-in dining and decor, offers carry out and has expanded with a juice, coffee and tea bar, and a buffet station.
The restaurant’s growth has been steady but challenged by the Covid-19 shutdown. “It takes approximately five years to really see some revenue. But with the steady pace of growth we’ve gotten, we’re basically training our community to eat healthier,” said Sister Carmella. Some of the basic menu staples are halal or Islamically-approved food, chicken, wild caught salmon and other fish, bean soup, a variety of vegetables, rice and burgers that are good quality whether turkey, lamb, salmon, or vegetarian. And, of course, no pork or pork byproducts.
Her business partner, Michael A. Muhammad, is the on-site baker with his signature Paradise Bean Pie and an assortment of delicious cakes, pies, banana puddings and similar delights.
“The menu has been a pretty big transition for the community because many of the foods in this community are fried. This is a food desert. There’s not a lot of foods that are healthy in this area. So, we’ve been able to provide people with a healthier product,” said Sister Carmella.
Now the menu will include breakfast foods served from 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. as a new option for early risers or folks washing clothes at a next door laundromat.
The Foodie’s Spot has won awards and been featured in several publications. “We were blessed to be a winner with the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, which is from the mayor of the city of Chicago and trying to increase revenue in the Southside of Chicago,” said Sister Carmella.
But the Foodie’s Spot also has a mission to help build the community and help improve the lives of residents. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the restaurant, Believers from the Nation of Islam, and medical students from a local hospital would go out every other Sunday to feed the homeless, or anyone who wanted a free meal, and offer free health screenings.
“This has really helped the community because there were several severely ill people that absolutely needed medical help. The doctors or the student doctors were able to send them directly to the hospital for help,” said Sister Carmella.
Her sense of mission is rooted in her beliefs and history as a woman of Haitian descent, who has always wanted to help the world’s first Black republic. Since she can’t reach back to Haiti, she decided to help Black people here in the city she calls home.
In addition to its own products, the Foodie’s Spot carries the books of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, including “How to Eat To Live,” books one and two, and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam’s Final Call newspaper, and Aishah Muhammad’s sought after banana bread.
Sister Carmella is also especially happy about the restaurant’s new smoothie bar. “We’ll have healthy drinks and drinks that will build your immune system with the ID Life Shakes that are nutritious. So, one of the things that we would like to introduce to the community is the healthy ID Life products that we have,” she said.
Part of the remodeling includes a mural on one wall and historic photos of Black figures and the Nation of Islam throughout the restaurant. “What I found out from the community is that they don’t have an idea of any of our historical figures that have helped us along the way to where we are today,” said Sister Carmella. “So, I thought, ‘I’ll put them up.’ And this is this is really a conversational piece. Even Caucasian people who have come through here to introduce their products to me have stood here and pointed out people on the wall. So, it’s a great conversation piece and educational piece for our community,” she said.
The Foodie’s Spot, 7350 S. Stony Island Avenue in Chicago. Open Tuesdays through Sundays, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. CDT. Closed on Mondays. To call in orders, or for more information, contact 773-420-3948. Look for The Foodie’s Spot on Facebook.