As Black History Month comes to a close there are Black business owners who are making a difference in their community.
There’s a particular restaurant owner in Riverside County who not only survived breast cancer but her business also survived the pandemic.
At Sharon’s Creole Kitchen, customers get an authentic taste of soul food cooking.
“We got gumbo, jambalaya and etoufee,” said Sharon Cunningham, the owner.
From Cunningham’s secret Louisiana family recipes she opened the business in Murrieta where her family has lived for 20 years.
“There was a need and I wanted to fill that need,” Sharon said.
Before this restaurant happened something else happened that Sharon says gave her the inner strength to overcome any obstacle in life.
“March of 2018 I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Sharon said. “Most people want to say ‘why me God?’ but why not me. I went through a double mastectomy, many surgeries, chemo, didn’t do radiation got out of that one thank God.”
After beating cancer Sharon decided to share her family’s soul food recipes by opening a restaurant.
“I was crazy,” Sharon said. “I had a restaurant 13 years ago and I said I’d never do a restaurant again and after breast cancer I said ‘let’s do it again.'”
Her husband, Zolton was hesitant at first but he knew his wife could handle it.
“To see her go through breast cancer and be as strong as she was, she made me strong for her,” Zolton said.
But it wouldn’t be easy, the restaurant opened in March 2020.
“Two weeks later COVID hit,” Sharon said.
Fortunately Sharon’s Creole Kitchen survived thanks in part to a Riverside County COVID-19 program that paid certain businesses to feed local seniors.
“We did three meals a day for seven days a week for about 60 seniors in the area,” Sharon said.
Sharon says the pandemic also allowed her time to perfect her menu.
“We had to slow down and really revamp and refigure out what our service is going to look like and make sure we fine tune our recipes,” Sharon said.
Recipes that have made Sharon’s restaurant a local favorite.
“There’s no color lines in food and we just enjoy eating and sharing it, good stuff,” Sharon said.
It’s a place where hungry families can find delicious meals from an inspirational woman who is living proof that food is good for the soul.
“Believe in yourself and step up and just do it, don’t doubt it you know the doors are going to open and you’re going to make your way,” Sharon said. “God is always going to make a way for you.”