African American Business in Philadelphia

African American Business in Philadelphia (Photo: VisitPhilly)

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Philadelphia, PA - Shops, restaurants, galleries and bars owned and operated by African-Americans are abundant in Philadelphia.Philadelphia, PA - Shops, restaurants, galleries and bars owned and operated by African-Americans are abundant in Philadelphia.

Among Philly’s destination-worthy black-owned businesses: high-end lingerie boutique Coeur, nerdy-cool hangout Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, healthful juice and açai bowls bar Stripp’d Juice, top-shelf nightclub Reserve, and and West Philadelphia’s inimitable arts space, the Tiberino Museum.

Here’s a traveler-tailored list of some of the city’s standout black-owned businesses.

  • Amazulu Collections – Charita Powell, owner. Seven days a week and for more than 25 years, this popular Reading Terminal Market stand has represented artists from all over the world and lived the motto, “where cultures meet.” For sale: handmade folk dolls, original paintings, body care, cultural clothing and sterling silver jewelry designed by Powell and made by Indonesian artisans. Her newer South Philly venture, Amazulu Living Room, is a gallery-boutique (with a natural hair salon in back) known for hosting special events. Collections, 12th & Filbert Streets, (215) 627-8667; Living Room, 1529 Reed Street, (215) 207-7986,
  • Charlie’s Jeans – Sebastian McCall, owner. This Old City spot is the city’s absolute go-to for fitting its customers in the perfect pair of jeans. Slim, distressed, dark, flare, pencil, straight, bootcut, styles for work or for play are all on the menu. Topping it are the store’s exclusive brand, Sebasitan McCall, named for its owner. 233 Market Street, (215) 923-9681,
  • Coeur – Mona Lisa Jackson, owner. Petite Ms. Jackson is not being nasty when she sizes up her guests—and gently informs them their bras don’t quite fit. The longtime owner of this exclusive, walk-up Rittenhouse Square lingerie shop is known for her no-nonsense ability to fit figures of all shapes and sizes in investment-worthy Chantelle, Aubade, Chantal Thomass, Janira, Falke, La Perla and more. 132 S. 17th Street, (215) 972-0373,
  • Cultured Couture Vintage – Erik Honesty, owner. Now in its sixth year, this bastion of quality style on the edge of Kensington is best known for its stock of designer vintage menswear. In-the-know clients find well-priced Hermes scarves, ties, coats and shirts, Louis Vuitton and Gucci luggage, plus select women’s pieces. The destination-worthy boutique also hosts art shows and panel discussions. 703 W. Girard Avenue,
  • De’Vilage – Owner, Nikki Parks. Natural stone and wooden jewelry, Shea butter, natural soaps and body washes come from Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria to this standout Reading Terminal Market veteran. 12th & Filbert Streets, (215) 923-9860,
  • Philadelphia Diamond Company – Kenyatta Black, owner. Visitors and locals can create custom engagement rings and wedding bands at this much-respected jeweler, located in the heart of the Historic District, just steps from the Liberty Bell. 111 Independence Hall East,
    (215) 987-1901,
  • The Sable Collective (TSC) – Shanti Mayers, Celeste Bryant and Syreeta Scott, owners. More than a shop, this North Philly spot is a resource for women of color. The warm, chic storefront sells holistic body care, new and used books, Ankara-print socks, eclectic housewares, affirmation flag pennants (“I Am Brave” and “I Am Magic”), South African jewelry and Cuban leather bags. TSC also holds book clubs and yoga workshops—and serves as the hangout for clients from next-door-neighbor Duafe Holistic Hair Care, which belongs to Syreeta Scott, stylist to Jill Scott, Ava DuVernay, Questlove, Janet Jackson and others. 3133 N. 22nd Street,


  • 3rd Element Spa – Tomika Branch and Chyvonne Shackelford, owners. Sisters make the best small business partners. This nail specialist and esthetician established their busy, full-service day spa in the West Oak Lane community where they grew up. Popular here: Oxygen facials, gel manicures, detox pedicures, plush waxing, lash and brow enhancements, massages and 3rd Element lip balm and body butter and wash. 7175 Ogontz Avenue, (215) 276-2633, @3rdelementspa
  • About Phace – Ursula Augustine, owner. This by-appointment-only spot belongs to an industry vet whose 25-plus years in the business include stints with Bobbi Brown, Francois Nars, Aveda and Jeanine Lobell of Stila. Devoted clients swear by her lash lifts, Sensei Peel, sugaring—but especially her note-perfect makeup applications. 1700 Sansom Street, (215) 557-1562,
  • Body Cycle Studio – Russell Carter, owner. The founder of one of the city’s preeminent indoor cycling studios first came to Philly on a football scholarship at Temple University. Today, Carter and his team of a dozen instructors put exercisers through fast-paced yet accessible interval-style training in mostly 45-minute to hour-and-a-half-long classes. 1923 Chestnut Street, (215) 563-3663,
  • HolNest – Shannan Reese, owner. This co-op of licensed bodywork therapists offers holistic relaxation and rejuvenation inside a private fitness center in the busiest part of Center City. Reasonably priced Swedish, deep tissue, sports and hot stone massages are the specialty here, and an aromatherapist and esthetician are available too—for those who book ahead. 1835 Market Street, 2nd Floor, (215) 668-5403,


  • Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse – Ariell R. Johnson, owner. The first African-American woman on the East Coast to own a comic book shop has created a venue along rising Frankford Avenue that’s welcoming to all. Amalgam stocks Marvel, DC, big-time and self-published books for grown-ups, kids and everyone in-between—and serves up coffee drinks and locally made pastries, including comic-book-hero-themed cupcakes. 2578 Frankford Avenue, (215) 472-3300, @amalgamphilly
  • Atomic City Comics – Darryl Jones, owner. Classic comic book store known for dollar comics, manga, back issues, horror, sci-fi and old-school Arcade games such as Street Fighter has been a South Street mainstay since 2001. 638 South Street, (215) 625-9613 @atomiccitycomics
  • Rose Petals Cafe & Lounge – Jania and Desmin Daniels, owners. Rose petals- and whipped cream-topped strawberry waffles? Yes, please, in this cozy Germantown refuge, serving breakfast and lunch six days a week. Other reasons to trek to Northwest Philly include free Wi-Fi, a child-centered entertainment room, croque monsieurs, salads and tropical smoothies. 322 W. Chelten Avenue, (267) 388-1150,
  • Stripp’d Juice – Khoran Horn, owner. At Old City’s cold-press juicery, everyone seems to have a fave: Jala At Ya Boy, Woodermelon, Wise Pine—all made from ingredients from local farms and purveyors. But the handsome, historic spot doesn’t stop there: It’s also known for making an outstanding açai and matcha bowls, brioche egg sandwiches, chipotle guac toast and nut milks. 263 N. 3rd Street, (267) 550-7877,


  • Denise’s Bakery – Denise Gause, owner. After a fire closed her 25-year-old North Philly homage to sugar, eggs and flour, she did what any strong baker would do: She rebuilt it. Today, lines once again form out the door and the phone rings off the hook for Denise’s pound cake, pies, brownies, doughnuts, cookies and wedding cakes. 2916 N. 22nd Street, (215) 225-5425,
  • Sweet Nectar Dessert Kitchen – Robin Broughton-Smith, owner. She’s gone from Jay-Z’s accountant to the creator of sticky buns, ginger cookies, carrot cakes, baked doughnuts, plus all manner of seasonal cupcakes and custom cakes in the Art Museum neighborhood. The shop also offers classes, demos and meetups. 547 N. 20th Street, (267) 318-7143,


  • 48th Street Grille – Carl Lewis, Sr., owner. Customers with a taste for the perfect combo of soul, Caribbean and American cuisines—at low prices—meet up to chow down at this beloved destination. Hearty portions of blackened wings, jerk turkey with stuffing, baby back ribs and more are worth the trip to West Philly. 310 S. 48th Street, (267) 244-4764,
  • Aksum Cafe – Saba Tedla, owner. This Mediterranean—North African, European, Middle Eastern—bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) spot is known along the up-and-coming Baltimore Avenue corridor for its vegetable tajines, Lebanese lemon chicken and shrimp, Greek lamb chops and tapas like kale spanikopita, roasted garlic hummus and roasted beet salad. There’s also a kids’ menu and weekend brunches that consist of sweet corn griddle cakes, Turkish scrambled eggs, shakshuka, Monte Cristo sandwiches and tofu scrambles. 4630 Baltimore Avenue, (267) 275-8195,
  • Dos Tacos – Sylva Senat, owner. When current-season “Top Chef” contestant Senat temporarily left Philly for Savannah, Georgia, he at least left the city with five-chili pastrami, queso- and chipotle-cream-topped yucca fries, and the most loaded nachos ever. All this from a shoebox-size eatery in the heart of Center City. In March 2017, Senat plans to open Maison, serving new American French fare at 13th and Locust Streets. 120 S. 15th Street, (215) 567-8226,
  • Herban Eats – Kalefe Wright and Amir Fardshisheh, owners. A pair of Wharton School grads got in early and went all Philly on the good-for-you fast-casual food trend. On their University City spot’s locavore menu, lean proteins, unrefined carbs, vitamins and minerals go into wild-caught bluefish, grilled steak, jerk chicken and “vegan jawn,” served over red rice or quinoa. Regulars swear by the coconut oil-touched sweet potato mash, hibiscus ginger tea, Herban hot sauce and, yes, healthy cheesesteak. 3601 Market Street, (215) 386-5000,
  • Jamaican Jerk Hut – Lisa Wilson, owner. One of the city’s favorite casual BYOBs has been serving up famous jerk chicken, oxtail, curry shrimp with sides of roti, cornbread and johnny cakes since 1994. The spot is especially popular in summer, when diners can sit on a veranda out back—and bring rum to mix with homemade juices and ginger beer. 1436 South Street, (215) 545-8644,
  • Keven Parker Soul Food Cafe – Owner, Keven Parker. Fried chicken, extra-cheesy macaroni and cheese, caramelized candied yams, collard greens and other feel-good, homestyle Southern fare doesn’t get any more convenient than this simmering stall in the historic Reading Terminal Market. Parker’s sit-down spot, complete with a stylish lounge, is a few blocks South, the much-loved Ms. Tootsie’s. Soul Food Café, 12th & Arch Streets, (215) 625-0650; Ms. Tootsie’s,1312 South Street, (215) 731-9045,
  • Relish, South Kitchen & Jazz Bar & Warmdaddy’s – Robert and Benjamin Bynum, owners. Two prolific brothers own three hopping venues. West Oak Lane’s Relish offers modern Southern cuisine, live jazz Thursday through Saturday and a 40-foot brunch buffet on Saturday and Sunday. Just north of City Hall, spare and chic South dishes up Lowcountry fare (chicken-fried oysters, shrimp and grits, hush puppies), old-fashioned hospitality, live jazz six nights a week and a 50-bottle bourbon and whiskey program. Warmdaddy’s is the spot for New Orleans jazz, acoustic soul—Urban Guerilla Orchestra, Jeff Bradshaw, Zeek, Point Blank or Amazin Grace Little perform here—and the food to go with it—a massive menu of barbecue short ribs, skillet mac and cheese, gumbo Ya Ya and more. Relish, 7152 Ogontz Avenue, (215) 276-0170,; South, 600 N. Broad Street, (215) 600-0220,; Warmdaddy’s, Riverview Plaza, 1400 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 462-2000,
  • Youma – Youma Ba, owner. The African cuisine scene is especially rich in West Philly. One notable newcomer is this Senegalese spot, whose Fulani owner brings a taste of Dakar with dibi (grilled lambchops), yassa (spicy grilled chicken with habanero and green pepper), fatata (beef patties), aloco (fried plantains), thieboudienne (fried rice with vegetables and fish) and ginger juice blended with mango, strawberry, grenadine or peach. 4519 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 386-2025,

Art Galleries:

  • The Bazemore Gallery – Lenny Bazemore, owner. A heavyweight in the local art scene laid out his Manayunk gallery to conform to the principles of Feng Shui, then invited in artists such as Susan Beard, Stephen Bruce, James Brantley and John Stango to add life. 4339 Main Street, (215) 482-1119,
  • October Gallery – Mercer Redcross, owner. “African-American art is good for everyone” is the motto of this circa-1985 vast repository of mostly contemporary black art. This elder statesman of creativity has shared its mission from its Germantown flagships through kiosks and shows across town, long before pop-ups were cool. 6353 Greene Street, (215) 352-3114,
  • Rush Arts Philly (RAP) – Danny Simmons, owner. After the elder brother of the Reverend Run and Russell Simmons relocated to Philly, he established an outpost of his famed art gallery and community space at the very top of Broad Street. RAP for short opened with the acclaimed show Guerillas In The Midst, and continues to put on top-notch shows. 4954 Old York Road,
  • Tiberino Museum – Ellen, Raphael and Gabriel Tiberino, owners. Known as “the West Philly Wyeths,” the artistic Tiberino family has long occupied five homes that overlook a common courtyard—and allowed visitors to stroll through their artful residences. After patriarchs Joseph and Ellen Powell passed, their adult children continue their traditions, working in ceramics, stained glass, painting murals and figures, and holding alfresco Sunday art circles, where painters bring their easels; drummers bring their drums; poets, their poetry. 3819 Hamilton Street, (215) 386-3784,


  • Reef – Mike Clark, owner. Seven nights a week, this Queen Village spot turns out Philly-touched Jamaican fare—pepper shrimp, fried plantains and jerk chicken cheesesteaks. But it’s the upstairs lounge, where DJs spin hip hop, R&B and top 40 on Fridays and island rhythms on Saturdays, that patrons have loved longest. 605 S. 3rd Street, ((215) 629-0102,
  • Reserve Lounge – Mike Clark, owner. Center City’s Reserve gives cocktail enthusiasts eight hours a week (10 p.m.-2 a.m., Friday and Saturday) and just enough elbow room to see and be seen, sip and dance. About that sipping: Bubbly, Hennessy, shots and such. 724 Arch Street, (267) 482-0724,

Just Outside The City:

  • Girls’ Auto Clinic Repair Center – Patrice Banks, owner. Engineer turned mechanic (and author of Girls Auto Clinic Glovebox Guide) has established the city’s first and only women-run garage and has plans to debut an adjacent beauty bar featuring stations for blow-outs and nail services. 7425 W. Chester Pike, Upper Darby, (484) 461-4693,




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