Born in Mississippi, Pat Robinson moved to Peoria for his career, but soon realized opening a restaurant in the first district was a way of sharing his southern hospitality.
“One of the things that were very important to us was to put this business in this community, in the downtown area, where we were close to a more urban setting. We wanted to be available to the folks in this community,” said Robinson, Co-Owner of Moja restaurant.
Moja Southern Kitchen and Creamery is one of many celebrating its heritage as part of the 14th annual National Black Business Awareness month. The goal is to boost local restaurants, shops and stores in within the community.
“We want to gain recognition for all black business’s out there, but people don’t even realize they’re there,” said First District Councilwoman Denise Moore.
Moore, adds if everyone in the River City puts extra effort into supporting businesses similar to Moja café, the results will benefit the city’s growth.
More said, “The last published census data indicated the number of black business in Peoria was so small, it didn’t even register on the chart. It was only a footnote, and we can change that.”+
Moore continues that goal, helping business owners at the Minority Business Development Center on Peoria’s south side. Teaching entrepreneurs about services and resources to help their businesses reach new milestones.
“No one else in central Illinois is providing the level of service that we are providing with the opportunity to be housed in an incubator.” Moore adds, “We are here every day assisting the business to help understand how to grow their business.”
The minority development business center is celebrating achievement all month long and will have a Gala on August 12th commemorating 20 years of the Black Business Alliance Peoria Chapter.