The aura surrounding the new Soul Daddy restaurant in New York City was electric, brimming with the personality of newly minted restauranteur Jamawn Woods. Woods effortlessly posed for pictures, signed autographs for fans, and managed requests from the press. Yet, the winner of NBC’s America’s Next Best Restaurant was also all about his business, tending to various tasks as diners enjoyed his healthy soul food – the stellar concept that won the judges over.
After facing unemployment, and catering for six months out of his home, Woods won a spot on the reality series based on pictures from his Facebook page. Now this Detroit native is living his dream of providing nourishing comfort food to the masses through Soul Daddy locations in Los Angeles, Minneapolis and New York. Woods took a break from serving and greeting to share insights on his miraculous transition with BlackEnterprise.com. —Alexis Stodghill
What was it like being on America’s Next Best Restaurant?
It was a good experience; but at the same time, it was stressful for the simple fact that you are cut off from the world. A lot of people don’t know that about reality TV. That part was stressful, but worth it.
What was your greatest lesson learned?
Be yourself, no matter what. That’s something Bobby Flay told me. You have to be yourself so people can identify with your restaurant. That’s one of the reasons why I am receiving so much love from the people. They feel at home when they meet me.
What was the greatest challenge you faced in the catering business?
The biggest challenge was money. It takes money to start anything. I wasn’t employed, so I just stepped out on faith, scraped up all the money I had, and bought the supplies I needed. God blessed me and kept money coming in.
How does making the transition to being a large restauranteur feel?
It feels great, of course. To have a chain of restaurants, three restaurants in three different cities, to have employees working for you, it’s amazing. Just to watch my crew work feels good!
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