Taking a Soul Food Restaurant into The Franchise Space

April 7, 2023
Barbara Castiglia

As restaurants look to make a comeback and put the pandemic on the back burner, new franchises have started to re-enter the landscape. Franchises create opportunities for entrepreneurs, and the industry encourages women to enter the restaurant franchise business. Two women heeding the franchise call are Adenah Bayoh and Elzadie “Zadie” Smith. In October 2022, they announced plans to expand their fast-casual soul food and family-friendly restaurant, Cornbread Farm to Soul, throughout NYC and surrounding areas through franchise opportunities.

Bayoh and Smith opened their first Cornbread location in New Jersey in 2017. They currently have three Cornbread locations, two in New Jersey and one in Brooklyn, New York, but they are ready to branch out and share their love of soul food beyond their well-established locations.

Adenah Bayoh, Cornbread: Farm to Soul, CEO and Co-Founder, spoke with The Main Course host, Barbara Castiglia, about the desire to franchise her soul food restaurant.

“We’re excited to expand this brand into every major city and through a franchise partnership,” Bayoh said. “My journey into soul food is to make sure that we give soul food the proper respect in this industry that it needs.”

In addition to providing Castiglia a run-down of Cornbread’s concept and menu, Bayoh discusses the following with her:

● Offering vegan and healthy options in a soul food restaurant

● Bayoh’s food industry journey leading up to Cornbread and preparing to franchise the restaurant

● Building in a scalable approach to the soul food restaurant concept so that it had franchise potential

“When I put my franchiser hat on, I want to make sure that this unit is stabilized in 90 days from when you first open it,” Bayoh said. “We have really simple systems. I’m extremely ears to the ground. I’m close to my staff; I want to know what the pressure points are, what are the things that are just not working out, and how can we fix things quickly.”

Adenah Bayoh embodies the American dream. At age 13, she escaped the civil war in her native country of Liberia, immigrated to the United States, and is now one of the most successful entrepreneurs in New Jersey. Inspired by her grandmother, who owned a restaurant in Liberia, Adenah now owns seven restaurants, including four IHOP franchises in northern New Jersey. She opened her first IHOP in Irvington Township, New Jersey, at the age of 27, making her one of the youngest franchisees in the country at that time. Because of this flagship location’s success and her other business ventures, Bayoh is the second largest employer in Irvington. In 2017, Bayoh launched Cornbread, an independent fast casual, farm-to-table, soul food restaurant with fellow entrepreneur Zadie B. Smith. The prestigious Federal Reserve Bank of New York Advisory Council on Small Business and Agriculture appointed her to the council in 2015.

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