Community Members opened Brick and Mortar Business in the middle of Pandemic
Khadro Abdi and Sonder are passionate and highly self-driven individuals with an interest to become food entrepreneurs. DMA referred both to our program partner Livelihood NW. With the help of LIvelihood NW they learned various skills that are needed to start a new business. Both of them have opened their brick and mortar business in the middle of Pandemic! Please support their business!
Khadro Abdi, the owner of Alleamin African Kitchen came to the US from Somalia as a refugee from Somalia in 2005. She landed in Portland, OR with her husband and two children. With the little English she had, she found entry-level jobs and was able to learn more English and skills needed to be an entrepreneur in the US. Based on her passionate drive and faith and community support, Khadro opened her first business, a daycare for three years. But her real joy was making and sharing food. She then opened her first East African Cuisine restaurant called Alle Amin. For four years, she served her Somalian foods, hot sauces, rice, goat meat, and sambusas. When the lease ended suddenly, it was very sad for her community and family.
With encouragement from her community, customers and IRCO, she began taking steps to get licensed to sell her sauces. As she worked on her sauces, she found Livelihood NW through East Portland open office hours through Division Midway Alliance. She continued at farmers markets while working on her sauces. She was able to get one of her sauces on the shelves at Market of Choice and other stores but was always looking for the next opportunity to have her own restaurant again. In the fall of 2019, advisors at Livelihood NW connected her with Guerrilla Development and the developing project of Rocket Empire Machine.
For the last year, Khadro has been preparing to have a brick and mortar location again and now the dream has come true. On August 8, 2020, she opened Alleamin African Kitchen! The new location is at 6935 NE Glisan St. She is so excited to share her food directly with her customers and community. These plans were in place before Covid-19, but with a lot of support, encouragement, faith, and hard work, she has been able to make this dream happen!
Sonder | Sea & River Sushi + Burmese Grill
Sonder has cooked professionally and trained as a chef all over the world including Thailand, Malaysia, and Portland. He brings his expertise as a chef in multiple cuisines to his new restaurant, Sea & River Sushi + Burmese Grill, located in the Rocket Empire Machine (REM) building on NE 69th and Glisan in Portland, OR. Sea & River Sushi pairs high quality and beautiful sushi rolls with delicious a curated selection of traditional Burmese and Thai dishes that reflect Sonder’s worldly cooking expertise.
When Sonder first started working with Livelihood NW, his dream of opening a sushi restaurant...
seemed far away. He met with his Business Advisor through Livelihood NW’s Open Business Advising in East Portland, at Division Midway Alliance. This free program helped Sonder develop his business plan and search for a location for his business.
There were many challenges Sonder had to overcome. As a non-native English speaker, many landlords and property management companies dismissed Sonder’s request to look at commercial space for his restaurant. It took more than a year of looking for spaces and making calls to find a landlord who was willing to give him the keys, and be genuinely excited about Sonder’s concept: Guerrilla Development. Guerrilla Development offered Sonder a micro kitchen space at their brand new Rocket Empire Machine building. While Sonder had to adjust his grand plans of a larger sushi restaurant, he realized this was a good first step for him, and was lower risk as well.
As the world entered a global pandemic, Sonder, with the help of his Livelihood NW Business Advisor began building out his kitchen space, working with contractors, his landlord, other business owners, regulation agencies, and suppliers. He opened his doors at the end of August 2020 with a sushi menu, and the Burmese food will follow!
Sonder appreciates the support through Livelihood NW’s GroundWork for Small Business program as he enters new challenges with his business: Hiring and managing employees, keeping accounting records, and attracting new customers. Come visit and try his delicious food soon!