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Johnny Banks, owner of Edna’s Soul Food Cafe in Tampa, FL.

In February, I celebrated a milestone birthday. I spent my birthday week in Tampa, Fl, visiting one of my best friends. I had never been to Tampa before, as my best buddy only recently moved to the city. One of the first things I did when I got there was to find a Soul Food restaurant. As it turns out, there was one located across the street from my buddy’s place. It was called EDNA’S.

As a journalist and business writer for most of the past 30 years, it’s second nature for me to find a minority-owned business in any new city I visit. I’m always thinking about how I can turn my visit to a new soul food restaurant or some other company into a story that I can write about and publish. The niche strategy has worked extraordinarily well over the past few decades, as I have written dozens of articles about minority and women-owned businesses.

As soon as I walked into EDNA’S, a young woman behind the counter said, in a light, loud and cheerful voice, “Good Morning this Morning! How are you doing this Morning?! What I can I get you for breakfast?!” I was delighted by the warm, down-home, and Southern-style greeting! I was already savoring the delicious scents of the bacon, sausage, grits, eggs, home fries, and biscuits on the grill that greeted me the second I walked in the door. In a cheerful and happy voice, I said, “I’m doing great this Morning! I want some grits, scrambled eggs, sausage and a biscuit.”

I fixed myself a big cup of coffee and sat down at a modest table. Later, I saw a man behind the counter and recognized him from the cafe’s Facebook page. It was Mr. Banks, the owner. I introduced myself, and he greeted me with a big smile and a hearty handshake. He shared how Edna was his mother’s name, and he named the eatery after her. He had worked in the foodservice industry for 25 or 30 years—stretching back to his early days as a shift manager for McDonald’s. He had served in the military and, at one time, was stationed in Fort Dix, New Jersey. I knew I had my story with a New Jersey connection when he told me that!

After scarfing down a heaping pile of grits, eggs, sausage, and a big ole’ homemade biscuit, I hoisted myself up from the tiny table. I paid the tab, which was less than $10—it would have been doubled that back home in New Jersey. I waved and thanked Mr. Banks and his staff for outstanding service and a delicious breakfast. And yes, I left a big tip in the tip jar. On my way out, I noticed a Florida lottery retailer on site. I bought a $2 dollar Pick 2 ticket. I played my birthday 1-8. Later that afternoon, the Pick 2 number came out for the day; it was 1-8!

The following day, I went back to EDNA’S for breakfast. It was a near repeat of the day before, except I ordered bacon instead of sausage this time. And I had another delightful conversation with Mr. Banks. I cashed in my lottery ticket. The winnings paid for my breakfast for both days, including the tips and two birthday cocktails later that day at Happy Hour at a popular downtown Tampa watering spot!!! The moral of the story is to be kind to people and do good things for people, and you will be enriched spiritually and maybe otherwise. Oh, and support minority-owned and small businesses, buy Black and buy Brown!

                                 

Glenn Townes

I'm an award winning journalist based in Edison, NJ. My work has been featured in dozens of publications including, Black Enterprise magazine; ESSENCE magazine and Real Health magazine. I am also a featured...

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks Glenn for your encouragement and the love of our culture @ednassoulfoodgrille. We enjoyed and appreciated your energy and heart felt appreciate for what we do. You are family ❤️

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