The South's small business owners brim with innovation and talent. And, if they're on the Local Palate Marketplace, you can count on a particular degree of culinary flare, too. These five black-owned businesses in Charleston, Nashville, Atlanta, and beyond are leaders in their craft.
Rhonda Cammon, a long-time force in Nashville’s craft beverage scene, introduced Perfectly Cordial in 2020 as a way to make cocktails healthier and tastier—no booze necessary. She initially began experimenting with ways to diversify the nonalcoholic drink offerings at bars beyond just soda and lime. Drawing on her childhood in Florida, Cammon uses tropical fruit flavors and Caribbean spices to concoct mixers flavored with pineapple and coconut water, mango and Mexican chili, pear and cardamom, and more. In the words of the Local Palate’s editor in chief, “whatever Rhonda Cammon’s pouring, I’m drinking!”
Holmes Sweet Home
Samotria Holmes fell in love with crafting treats as a young girl and grew up preparing desserts alongside her grandmother. After a career in technology sales, she traded software for sugar and embarked on creating brittles, candies, and various other treats from wholesome, top-quality ingredients. Many even happen to be naturally gluten free, soy free, and vegan! As an avid marketer for her brand, Holmes can often be found at partnered businesses, showcasing her products.
The South’s premier culinary bladesmith Quintin Middleton crafts sleek, hand-made steel knives out of his forge in rural Saint Stephen, South Carolina. Middleton fell in love with making knives as a young boy (he credits it to watching “Conan the Barbarian”) and honed his skills practicing on his mother’s shower rod and other household items. His youthful pursuits evolved into a six-year apprenticeship, which led to him creating handmade chefs knives for Middleton Made Knives. His high carbon steel knives sparked a following from professional chefs, including Sean Brock, Mike Lata, Michael Anthony, and more.
Suga’s Pimento Cheese
Stacey West, or chef Suga, gained a following of Atlanta Sunday brunchers who fell in love with her pimento cheese grits. After numerous requests for just the pimento cheese, West started selling the original and jalapeño pimento cheeses recipes around the metro area. This snowballed into her line of eight flavors, including four vegan options, making hers the only vegan pimento cheese in the South.
Inspired by their father’s adoration for barbecue and the family matriarch Aunt Lillie, the siblings in this Southern Black-owned business introduced their line of hot and barbecue sauces that add flavors of home to meats and side dishes. Their father first debuted the sauce in 1985 at his restaurant the Rib Shack, and the kids continue the family’s legacy celebrating flavors and meals that ensure no one ever leaves "feeling unwanted, unloved, or hungry."