Florida Black Businesses You Should Know

    By Dalia Colón

    "I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don't sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them." — Madam C.J. Walker

    Supporting Black businesses in Florida is easier than ever. From restaurants and resorts to book stores and boutiques, African-American business owners are eager to serve visitors of all backgrounds. Wherever your Florida travels take you, you can proudly shop local knowing you’re supporting some of the Sunshine State’s best minority-owned businesses.

    NORTH FLORIDA

    Coast One Tours (Amelia Island)

    Tour guide Ron Miller brings history to life during an excursion to American Beach, North Florida’s historically Black vacation destination. He also sheds light on the Black experience in Kingsley Plantation and Amelia Island.

    Elegant Couture (Gainesville)

    Mother-daughter duo Candace Calhoun Green and Candace Calhoun-Thomas are the fashionistas behind this online boutique that offers shipping and local pickup. Styles range from casual rompers to form-fitting dresses to breezy beachwear, plus hats, shoes and accessories.

    Five Sisters Blues Cafe (Pensacola)

    This comfort food spot will make you feel like family, whether you’re from nearby or from across the globe like Senegalese-born co-owner Jean Pierre N’Dione. Located in the historic Belmont-DeVilliers neighborhood, the restaurant specializes in Southern classics like pulled pork sandwiches, fried green tomatoes and black-eyed peas. Catch the Sunday jazz brunch with live music.

    Glam Beauty Bar and Spa (Jacksonville)

    Need a glow-up? Head to this spa that’s owned by licensed master esthetician Antinese Stinson and staffed by a team of Black skincare experts. Whether you want a facial, makeup services or other specialty treatments, you’ll leave feeling refreshed.

    Growers Alliance Cafe and Gift Shop (St. Augustine)

    Enjoy fair-trade coffee, adult beverages, live music and more at this nonprofit cafe started by Kenyan native Martin Kabaki. Proceeds benefit Kenyan orphanages, clean water initiatives and other programs. The monthly coffee club is an easy way to get your caffeine fix while supporting the cause.

    Stage Aurora Theatrical Company (Jacksonville)

    This theater’s founder and executive artistic director is Jacksonville native Darryl Reuben Hall, whose acting credits include Broadway, film and TV appearances. In addition to original works, the company has performed Dreamgirls, To Kill a Mockingbird and God’s Trombones. “Theatre that enlightens” is the tagline for this performing arts organization with locations in Northeast Florida and New York City.

    The Fuzzy Pineapple in Tallahassee invites shoppers to stand out with custom art, clothing and accessories, like this sweatshirt.  The Fuzzy Pineapple

    The Fuzzy Pineapple in Tallahassee invites shoppers to stand out with custom art, clothing and accessories, like this sweatshirt. The Fuzzy Pineapple

    - The Fuzzy Pineapple

    North Florida Business Spotlight

    The Fuzzy Pineapple (Tallahassee)

    Stand out with custom art, clothing and accessories from this boutique that Nefetari Dennard started in 2007. “I started it because my parents wouldn't let me get a job. They wanted me to focus solely on education,” she says. “So my dad gifted me $100, took me to a craft store and told me if I wanted to work, I would work for myself.” Her one-of-a-kind tie-dyed clothing pieces were an instant hit; the jewelry is also popular. Nef runs the business with help from her sister Nzinga Dennard, owner of Tallahassee’s Zing Bakery. “I love that [our entrepreneurship] inspires others. They see someone they can relate to and begin their own small business journey,” says Nef, who supports her community by hosting an annual arts festival, scholarships and more. “We subconsciously encourage others to believe in themselves no matter their age or race. I also love that we can showcase ourselves as ourselves. You can see that we aren't a monolith, and that is super important. When you see our pictures, you see afros, braids, Bantu knots, pineapple buns and care-free joy.”

    For more information:

    CENTRAL FLORIDA

     

    Cultured Books (St. Petersburg)

    Owner Lorielle Holloway has created a children’s bookstore that celebrates kids of color through picture books, book clubs and community events. Find titles ranging from Brown Boy Joy by Thomishia Booker to heavier topics for older readers, like Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad.

    The Hall on Franklin (Tampa)

    The menu options at this upscale Tampa Heights food hall range from fried chicken and waffles to bao buns, and the clientele it attracts is just as diverse. The space has bragging rights as Tampa’s first food hall, and developer Jamal Wilson plans to expand the concept to Orlando and Miami.

    Indie Noir Market (Tampa)

    Tampa is full of art markets, but you’ve never experienced one like this event founded by Camille Adrienne Washington. The family-friendly event showcases the work of Black creatives, including jewelry, paintings, bath products and more. Live entertainment, barbecue and kids jumping in the bounce house make this market feel a family reunion where all are welcome.

    Innisbrook Golf Resort (Palm Harbor)

    There are mom-and-pop businesses, and then there’s this sprawling resort that’s home to the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship. The property is owned by billionaire BET co-founder and self-made billionaire Sheila Johnson. But you don’t have to make the Forbes list to enjoy the golf courses, tennis court, spa and other amenities.

    Kizzy's Books & More (Orlando)

    Trenessa Williams named her bookstore for a character in Alex Haley’s saga Roots, so it’s not surprising that she stocks heavy-hitting novels and social justice reads. You’ll also find books on travel, health, art and more.

    Sister Honey’s Bakery (Orlando)

    Owner Evette Rahman pays homage to her late mother, Eulalee “Sister Honey” Runcie, with this award-winning bakery in the SoDo district. Treat yourself to a red velvet cupcake, or pick up a tray of apple rum raisin bread pudding for your next family gathering.

    The Studio@620 (St. Petersburg)

    “The answer is always yes” is the motto at this combination gallery, theater and event space run by co-founder and co-artistic director Bob Devin Jones. Whether it’s a poetry open mic, movie screening, dance performances or other occasion, you can expect to be enlightened and engaged.

    Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (Sarasota)

    Founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs celebrates the African-American experience with performances that attract theatergoers of all backgrounds. Past performances have included A Motown Christmas, Black Nativity, The Color Purple and more.

    Central Florida Business Spotlight

    Naked Bar Soap Co. (Orlando)

    Natasha Byrd-Gaylon was searching to soothe her newborn son’s cradle cap when she discovered the healing power of natural ingredients. Today along with her friend and business partner Jennifer Peets, she sells beautiful and natural bath products from their store in College Park. “Our most popular item is our natural deodorant, Pit Cream,” Peets says. The artisan soaps are also bestsellers, made with olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter and other plant-based ingredients. “It is natural, handcrafted soap with recognizable ingredients and nothing questionable about it,” Peets says. “It is moisturizing and leaves your skin feeling fresh and clean without stripping any of your natural oils.” Other must-have items include bath bombs, sugar scrubs and facial toners. The products are hardworking, just like Bryd-Gaylon and Peets themselves. “Simply put, we are Black Latinas and proud!” Peets says. “Our people have perseverance, tenacity and undying will to succeed in all avenues of life.”

    For more information:

    SOUTH FLORIDA

     

    Ice Cream Heaven (Miami Gardens)

    These over-the-top ice creams, milkshakes and—why not?—elephant ears will be the envy of your Instagram followers. Recent visitors include Flavor Flav and Miami Gardens native Flo Rida. The shop is co-owned by Felecia Hatcher, Nikki Prince and blogger Starex Smith, a.k.a. the Hungry Black Man.

    Harmonies Brew (Fort Lauderdale)

    Get your caffeine fix with a shot of good karma when you buy coffee from this company whose proceeds benefit a local performing arts after-school program. Run by arts lover Sereatha Virtanen, the company’s java’s shots and brew-at-home beans are available at South Florida retailers.

    Jackson Soul Food (Miami)

    Since 1946, the Jackson family has been dishing up comfort food in Miami’s historically Black Overtown neighborhood. Today, Jackson Soul Food is a bustling enterprise with two South Florida locations. The smothered pork chops, collard greens and cornbread dressing attract a steady stream of locals, visiting celebrities and even politicians on the campaign trail.

    Jakmel Art Gallery (Miami)

    Make an appointment to visit this gallery showcasing the work of Haitian musician and visual artist Jude Papaloko Thegenus.

    Libreri Mapou (Miami)

    This unapologetically Haitian bookstore sells works in English, French and Creole. Haitian playwright and activist Jan Mapou started the Little Haiti shop to celebrate and preserve his native culture.

    The M Ensemble Company (Miami)

    Patricia Williams and Shirley Richardson run this Liberty City institution that has bragging rights as Florida’s oldest Black theater company. The troupe performs classic productions like Ain’t Misbehavin’ and also accepts scripts from up-and-coming playwrights.

    The New Vegan (Delray Beach)

    Husband and wife Rahein and Patricia Jones are the gastronomic geniuses behind this restaurant and accompanying food truck. Plant-based menu items like “chickn” n waffles, falafel burgers and dairy-free milkshakes attract vegans and omnivores alike.

    Wajoli African Wear (Fort Myers)

    Ghanian-born Jessica Wajoli makes jewelry that brings the colors and textures of her native West Africa to Southwest Florida’s art markets. You’ll also find clothing, sandals and baskets imported from Ghana.

    Husband-and-wife grilling gurus Andre and Vickie Jones are the team behind Jonesez BBQ in Fort Myers, an award-winning food truck.

    Husband-and-wife grilling gurus Andre and Vickie Jones are the team behind Jonesez BBQ in Fort Myers, an award-winning food truck.

    - Jonesez BBQ


    South Florida Business Spotlight

    Jonesez BBQ (Fort Myers)

    Husband-and-wife grilling gurus Andre and Vickie Jones are the team behind this award-winning food truck. “We were always known for hosting family gatherings at our home, and everyone bragged about how good the food was, so we decided to open up a restaurant after trying out different farmer markets and events in LaBelle, Florida,” Vickie says. Since 2007, they’ve been dishing pulled pork, pulled chicken and spare ribs with all the fixin’s—save room for the mac and cheese. “Being a Black-owned Business in Florida comes with a lot of obstacles, and we’re proud to say that we’ve overcome most of them,” Vickie says. “It makes us proud to say that we started from nothing and are getting better and bigger every year.”

    For more information:

    More to Explore

    Check out these resources for statewide information on Florida’s Black-owned businesses.

    Black Business Bus Tour

    Get on the bus and get to know Florida’s Black-owned clothing boutiques, restaurants, specialty shops and more. The tour is based in Tampa but offers excursions statewide, so you can support Black-owned businesses wherever your travels take you.

    Black Business Owners of Florida

    This Orlando-based website offers business news, education and other resources for Black business owners statewide.

    Dine. Black

    Find Black-owned restaurants wherever your travels take you, including Miami, Orlando and Tallahassee.

    Eat Black Owned

    This website and its accompanying app claim to be the internet’s largest directory of Black-owned restaurants. Download the app for an on-the-go resource.

    Places to Remember

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