Jan 24, 2022 Community

One Year After the Main Street Strong Accelerator: Introducing New Participants in Boston

By Waleed and Quiana Shamsid-Deen, Owners, Supreme Burger, Former Main Street Strong Accelerator Participants

Living here in Decatur, Georgia, we see first hand how food brings our community together. It’s why we do what we do each day – serving up meals at Supreme Burger and bringing delicious food, well-paying jobs, and good community spirit to our neighbors in Atlanta. 

Last year, our restaurant was selected as one of the inaugural cohort participants of the Main Street Strong Accelerator, providing financial support and specialized educational resources to small businesses with a particular focus on women, immigrant and BIPOC-owned restaurants. 

The support from DoorDash came at just the right time. Like many other small businesses, our operations were turned upside down at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic: Our business lost nearly 50 percent of its revenue, and Supreme Burger had to shut down for 2 months. This was especially challenging – our employees are like family, and it was extremely difficult to see some leave.

As Black business owners, we’re unfortunately especially vulnerable to the challenges of launching a business. Businesses owned and operated by people of color are at a greater risk of permanent closure and financial setback because of financial and systemic disparities that existed long before the pandemic. And over the course of the pandemic, Black-owned businesses closed twice as fast as other businesses. 

That’s why we’re so excited to be where we are one year later: Putting the business education and skills we learned in the Accelerator curriculum into practice, we’re back on our feet. With the help of the $20,000 grant we received as a cohort participant, we’ve added two food trucks in Atlanta, GA and Jacksonville, FL, and opened another Supreme Burger franchise in Charleston, SC. 

Not only have we stabilized our business and adjusted to the COVID landscape, but we’ve also carried through on our broader mission to give back to our community, launching the first Halal Meals on Wheels Program for Muslim seniors in Metro-Atlanta, partnering with Frontline Food to provide meals to hospital and frontline heroes, and launching Supreme Cares to provide scholarships and donations to families in need. We’ve also helped other local business owners write and raise over $1 million in grant opportunities to help struggling businesses stay open, and launched a franchise development corporation that will help entrepreneurs build brands and create income for their families while making a difference in their communities.

For us, this is one of the most rewarding parts of participating in the Main Street Strong Accelerator — connecting with other restaurateurs and having a network of like-minded business owners to lean on for support. We’ve visited our cohort partners to try their best meals (Tigi’s Ethiopian in Parker Court has heavenly Sambusas!), and all stay connected to share opportunities and inspire each other to do better each day. 

That’s why we’re so excited this program has grown, and we’re proud to join DoorDash to introduce a new cohort of 17 Main Street Strong Accelerator participants, all based in the Greater Boston area. The Accelerator participants represent a diverse cohort of restaurateurs and business owners. Overall, 47% of Main Street Strong Accelerator participants are women; 76% of participants identify as immigrants or refugees; 70% identify as people of color. These Boston restaurateurs will be guided through the Accelerator curriculum by local chefs and entrepreneurs. They’ll receive a $20,000 grant, one-on-one business coaching, and the opportunity to connect with other local restaurant owners.

As small business owners ourselves, we understand the power we have in growing local economies –  we create jobs, uplift our neighborhoods, and serve as the heart of our communities. We’re honored to be a part of DoorDash’s Main Street Strong Accelerator and excited to see what the new cohort of Boston restaurateurs accomplish with this opportunity.