Featured photo: Correct now, Alexis Hefney’s small business is based out of a local neighborhood kitchen, but quickly, she’ll be transferring Ava’s Cuisine into the previous Iron Hen locale. (photograph by Sayaka Matsuoka)

A new small business will before long be opening at the outdated Iron Hen area in Greensboro.

For the very last two a long time, the when-well-liked restaurant located off of Cridland Road in close proximity to Latham Park, had been shut in the wake of the pandemic. Now, a new cafe and catering organization owned by a Black girl is moving in.

Alexis Hefney has been in the food items organization for all-around 4 many years now soon after attending UNCG for a biology diploma. For a quick whilst afterwards, Hefney taught at Dudley Substantial College but claims she sooner or later made the decision to adhere to her passion for cooking.

“I’ve usually hosted family dinners, and I started to branch out,” Hefney says.

Soon after Hefney had her daughter Ava, she began a food business enterprise that she named right after her only little one and Ava’s Delicacies and Catering was born. In the beginning Hefney commenced with a meals truck and then ventured into catering events for regional corporations and weddings. She experienced waitressed by faculty so realized how to do the job shopper service and operate a seamless front-of-house operation.

Suitable now, Hefney is based mostly out of Town Kitch, a neighborhood neighborhood kitchen area, but soon, she’ll be transferring Ava’s Delicacies into the outdated Iron Hen area.

“We have a large amount of men and women walking by,” Hefney states. “Everyone in the spot has been supportive.”

Alexis Hefney named her small business after her daughter, who helps her out in the kitchen area from time to time. (picture by Sayaka Matsuoka)

Making use of some household recipes, Hefney focuses on developing well-crafted, delicious soul food stuff. Some signature things include fried chicken, mac and cheese — a recipe passed down from her Grandmother Rose, collard greens and yams all items that she’s employed to cooking for her loved ones. She’ll have vegan and vegetarian alternatives way too, a little something she’s uncovered to add to her repertoire just after getting requests as a result of catering.

“I’m not vegan, but the only purpose why we made the decision to offer you vegan solutions is we do a lot of wedding and company occasions, and more people today are relocating vegetarian.”

Some plant-based mostly selections include a lasagna, “hamburger” steak and macaroni and cheese.

“People just can’t even explain to that they are vegan,” Hefney suggests.

To appear up with her recipes, Hefney states she attracts inspiration from strategies she sees on the Food items Channel as very well as making an attempt to make her own version of well known cafe foods. For example, she presents her own edition of the Ruth’s Chris stuffed hen.

“A great deal of people recipes are like chemistry,” Hefney says. “Food is like chemistry due to the fact you have to increase a good deal of seasoning, h2o to make it right. A great deal of it finishes up currently being off the leading of my head.”

Her favourite merchandise on the menu is the pulled pork.

“It’s tough to uncover pulled pork,” Hefney states. “It’s smoky, it has a very good texture. We make our own barbecue sauce it is form of vinegar centered, but it has a sweet tangy side to it as properly.”

Ava, now 5, also helps out all-around the kitchen.

“She is primarily a manager child,” Hefney says. “She requires pride in being aware of that something is named following her. She’s a huge inspiration for me she’s the rationale why I started off Ava’s Delicacies to give her a superior high-quality of daily life after teaching. She surely is fingers on when I cook dinner at property.”

One particular of the specialties at Ava’s Delicacies is the stuffed rooster which is a choose on Ruth’s Chris’ entree. (courtesy image)

In phrases of the site, Hefney says it is been a course of action but the logistics fell into position in direction of the conclusion of previous 12 months. 

“I imagine the most important thing I notify myself is that when a little something is for you, it’s for you,” Hefney says. “We uncovered [the location] in November on-line. I was not genuinely seeking for it, but I made the decision to observe up on it. It actually just fell in my lap.”

Due to the fact then, she’s been at the spot just about every day operating on incorporating her own touches to the inside. The plan, she says, is to open in August.

While the brick-and-mortar spot won’t have desk service, prospects will be in a position to wander in and get food to-go, form of like a deli. She’ll also go on catering, utilizing the space’s kitchen area to fulfill orders.

When the company is open up, Hefney says she’d like to give back again by partnering with neighborhood homeless-advocacy businesses as perfectly as connecting with both UNCG and NC A&T Condition College so pupils can entry her food items.

“Me getting an alumni, I definitely want to acknowledge SpartanCash and Aggie Dollars so learners can appear get excellent food stuff far too,” Hefney states. “A good deal of periods these learners pass up dwelling-cooked meals.”

As the grand opening day grows nearer, Hefney claims she’s energized to mature her organization.

“Everybody has been very welcoming,” she says. “We’re looking ahead to the great factors we can deliver to the neighborhood and encompassing region.”

What transpired to the Iron Hen?

As Triad City Beat noted in the past, the proprietor of Iron Hen, Lee Comer, has confronted allegations of racism and economic incompetence in the final several many years. 

In 2018 and 2019, TCB claimed that the “restaurateur just lately grew to become the goal of broad-ranging allegations of racial discrimination and other labor violations in the wake of a mass team exodus.” 

Comer opened the Iron Hen and her catering business in 2010.

In addition to staying the owner of Iron Hen, Comer was also briefly the proprietor of the Morehead Foundry, situated near the southwest corner of the Downtown Greenway. Comer opened the foundry in 2016. The refurbished building incorporated kitchen area place for Fresh. Regional. Very good Food Group’s catering company, alongside with 4 Flocks and Larder, Revolution Burger, the Baker & the Bean and Hush speakeasy. The total complicated has been vacant for the very last various many years, much like Iron Hen.

As documented by TCB, Comer experienced secured a $375,000 mortgage from the town of Greensboro in 2015 just after Comer agreed to commit $3.2 million to and to develop 29 new complete-time careers and 61 aspect-time jobs having to pay at or earlier mentioned Guilford County’s dwelling wage of $9.12 per hour. Having said that, observe-up reporting in 2019 identified that Comer owed far more than $260,000 in payments for an financial parking good deal bank loan for the foundry.

In accordance to Comer’s Facebook posts, she now operates an on the internet catering small business called Sirvve. An e mail to the metropolis inquiring about Comer’s fantastic mortgage payments went unanswered.

Master far more about Ava’s Cuisine and Catering at avascuisineandcatering.com or comply with them on social media @avas.cuisine.llc

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By Taba