Entrepreneur Quiana “Queen” Chapple has been self-funding her catering business, Goss’up Pastas, for 25 years and her restaurant in Chesterfield for seven. In early 2020, she was poised to expand into the upcoming Pagedale Town Center II development—a golden opportunity to reach new customers in the neighborhood where she grew up. All she had to do was fund the buildout, and she was ready to make that investment.
Then the pandemic hit, and Chapple’s clients cancelled events and cut back on dining out. Even as construction on the new building moved forward, she worried about her ability to be part of it when it opens in early 2021.
Happily for Chapple and two other small local culinary businesses, their buildouts in Pagedale Town Center II will be covered by a new grant Beyond Housing received Oct. 30 from the Republic Services Charitable Foundation. The funds, totaling $105,000, give Goss’up Pastas, Three Vegan Brothers, and Healthy Habits Smoothies the financial ability to set up their restaurants and retail spaces.
Part of the grant will also go toward an outdoor seating area—which wasn’t part of the original design but is now necessary as COVID-19 regulations continue to limit indoor dining.
“This grant is life-changing,” Chapple said. “It has taken a load off of what swiftly became dwindling finances during this pandemic. Without this grant, there certainly wouldn’t be a new building at this time. It’s given me hope that I will survive as a small business owner because the money doesn’t require repayment.”
Supporting minority-owned local companies
The local grant is part of $1 million awarded across the nation to eight affiliates of NeighborWorks America. The Republic Services Charitable Foundation pledged to support locally owned companies impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic—and 98 percent of the funded projects benefit minority-owned small businesses.
“From a small business standpoint, COVID-19 has been tragic,” said Chris Krehmeyer, President and CEO of Beyond Housing. “People’s hard work and years of effort was all dashed relatively quickly. We’re thrilled to stand in this space with these entrepreneurs to make the buildouts happen.”
Likewise, “Republic Services is committed to giving back to the communities where we live and work, and we are especially proud to partner with Beyond Housing to support locally owned businesses in North St. Louis County,” said General Manager Kevin Hinson of Republic Services.
“For several years, we’ve been dedicated to neighborhood revitalization through the Republic Services Charitable Foundation and our National Neighborhood Promise program,” Hinson said. “Supporting small business revitalization through our Committed to Serve initiative is a natural expansion of our charitable mission. We know small businesses have been hit especially hard during the pandemic, which is why we launched Committed to Serve. Through this targeted support, we hope to help locally owned businesses get through these challenging times.”
Krehmeyer added that Beyond Housing’s economic development team had already been working with these three operators, as well as other tenants of the upcoming PTCII development, to help ensure they stayed afloat through 2020 and were ready to open when the $6.5 million space at the corner of Page and Ferguson avenues is complete in the second quarter of 2021.
Strengthening the 24:1 Community
These businesses—all slated to be part of the Food Hall within PTCII—are central to the overall culinary concept in the building. They will sell prepared meals and restaurant-style plates with an emphasis on healthy, plant-based foods, offering additional variety to local residents while avoiding competition with existing eateries.
All three businesses were already operating successfully before the pandemic, and their owners had been saving up to fund the buildouts themselves. This grant offers them the opportunity to use that savings to keep their businesses afloat—and thanks to the buildout, they’ll have an opportunity to increase sales volume.
Those sales, in turn, will benefit the local municipal government via an increase in tax revenue and additional economic stability.
Perhaps as important as the economic benefit, Krehmeyer said, is providing a place for 24:1 Community residents to eat and gather. Opportunities like these are critical to creating a sense of place. Along with the amenities that already exist in that part of Pagedale (including a grocery store, movie theater, health facility, small business support center, and more), the eateries will offer a point of pride for their neighbors as well as a destination for people from other parts of the community.
Building relationships with partners
Republic Services, an industry leader in U.S. recycling and waste services, already serves a number of 24:1 Communities, and NeighborWorks has been a partner with its Beyond Housing affiliate for many years.
Beyond Housing’s position as a liaison between these national organizations and local small businesses served as a catalyst for this grant and illustrates how important its deep and trusting relationships are to its holistic model for community development.
“Investing in the diverse communities where we live and work is important to Republic Services, so supporting local small businesses, including minority-owned businesses, is a natural extension of our ongoing neighborhood revitalization efforts and our ongoing commitment to inclusion and diversity,” said Catharine Ellingsen, president of the Republic Services Charitable Foundation and executive vice president of Republic Services.
For Chapple, being an active part of a thriving community is key. “As a young Black entrepreneur, I’ll be catering to a community that I’m familiar with,” she said. “I grew up not too far from the location.”
A self-described “experienced cook, motivator, and self-esteem booster,” she has the vision, skills, and personality to make Goss’up Pastas a cornerstone of the Pagedale community. “Through good eats, conversation, new hires, and self-esteem boosting, I’ll be able to build long-term relationships—and soon enough, customers will become family,” she predicted.
That’s exactly the spirit Beyond Housing is working to highlight throughout the communities of North St. Louis County.