Meet Mawa McQueen, the Ivory Coast Native Behind Aspen’s Only Black-Owned Restaurant

Meet Mawa McQueen, the Ivory Coast Native Behind Aspen’s Only Black-Owned Restaurant

Mawa McQueen’s journey extends far beyond her migration to the United States. Aspen, CO, was where she would settle and establish her Ivory Coast and French roots as a creator in the kitchen.

McQueen opened Mawa’s Kitchen nearly 12 years ago, having expanded from a traditional breakfast and lunch spot to a full-fledged restaurant. Culturally-inspired dishes range from a Thai noodle salad to handmade Middle Eastern dips for reasonable prices.

Not only has the restaurant become highly-favored in Aspen, but it reigns as the area’s only Black-owned restaurant. These major accomplishments speaks to McQueen’s passion for cooking and determination.

Born in the Ivory Coast, the restauranteur resided in France for many years. She recall3e her ambitions of moving to the United States in an interview with Travel Noire.

“I saw a romantic scene on the soap opera The Young and The Restless that was in Aspen, and it made me want to move there one day,” McQueen said. “That was where Aspen started for me.”


After taking the leap to the United States, McQueen found employment working in hospitality at a château in Maine. She told Travel Noire that her boss offered her the opportunity to relocate anywhere, thanks to a successful winter season. Lo and behold, Aspen!

McQueen embarked on her wildest dreams. Nearly 10 years after working at her job’s sister property in Aspen, she met a woman who would ignite her confidence to open a restaurant. After their initial introduction, McQueen was invited to help the woman during a holiday dinner, but ultimately stepped in to prepare everything.

“I actually made more money serving than I would in the kitchen. But I was very impressed with this particular woman. She was the first woman to manage Morgan and Stanley, so I valued her opinion.”

This experience motivated McQueen to offer private chef services, having impressed that woman so much. She even started cooking meals for the woman’s private jet.

The rest is history.

Mawa’s Kitchen has seen the likes of celebrities such as Sidra Smith, the twin of BMF Star, Tasha Smith.

According to Travel Noire, McQueen revealed that she was listed as one of the top Aspen restaurants by a super exclusive Asian travel guide. She looks forward to establishing a second location of her restaurant in downtown Aspen. Dedicated to evolving her talents, she is also pursuing the granola business and preparing to open a factory to efficiently make all of her blends in-house and 100% organic.

“When COVID hit, my granola was flying off the shelves. It is really a labor of love, and this is the only handmade brand in all of Aspen. I really enjoy making it. It’s my therapy.”