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Shawnae’s House: Celebrating Black History Month with Soul Food

In honor of Black History month, there’s many black owned businesses in Staten Island that go unnoticed. Although people may know the popular chain restaurants and well- known spots, there’s always those holes in the wall that people may miss because they don’t go through that neighborhood or never saw an ad for it. The north shore is home to many of these restaurants. There is one in particular that stands out because of its welcoming environment and personal belief for saying grace. Shawnae’s House located at 381 Van Duzer Street puts the “soul” in soul food! Since June 2021, this charming little home has been providing services to a wonderfully varied community and has encouraged many people to believe that big dreams can come true when we think the impossible is achievable. Every experience I’ve had there has been a pleasant one and I always look forward to going back there. The hours of operation are currently only Thursday- Saturdays 5-11 pm, but the owner still draws in a lot of business with her delicious cooking and friendly demeanor.

They always start me off with complimentary cornbread with different flavors such as blueberry, strawberry and original to share and if someone wants another serving they have to purchase it. The bread is warm and delicious, and almost as good as their popular sugar daddy wings. Everytime I go there I either order them or recommend it to someone else in my party because I have to have at least one every visit! I’ve also tried the fried catfish and although I’m not the biggest seafood lover, the taste was very satisfying for my palette. Out of the sides I have tried there, the macaroni and cheese is my go to. 

The name of the restaurant is in honor of the independent businesswoman, Shawnae Dixon. In addition to being a wife, mother, businesswoman, philanthropist, and social change agent, Shawnae is also an accomplished chef, which appeals to a wide audience. She is always keeping busy and loves being on camera. I keep up with her social media and am always excited to see what she posts next. She even has her own cooking show called Herb and Flour on YouTube where she shows how to make some dishes. Recently, she served up a soul food dinner to the world renowned soul food chef and extraordinaire that was the first black man to open up a soul food restaurant, Alexander Smalls and Laurie Cumbo, the cultural fairs commissioner. They all “created a bond that will never be broken or recreated and will always be what God ordained”. Her hard work and dedication is gaining exposure and bringing positive encounters into her restaurant.

Photo by Rayna Pajares- Held

Soul food is not just good food that Shawnae whips up because it’s her job, there is a strong passion and love behind it. As said by Shawnae “It shows up when you reminisce about your loved one and think about the dishes that kept you grounded in morals, values and love. Your mother, father, grandparents, aunts and uncles hold the keys to the recipes that you witnessed them master and inspiration was giving water to the seed. Something was planted by your roots and your destiny agreed with life’s turns, twists and encounters.”  She strongly believes that she needs to keep up with the legacy that started with her ancestors and “feeding people with love will heal the mind, body and soul.” She started cooking from a young age and is the only one of 19 grandchildren who cooks professionally. She quit her day job after opening a full fledged restaurant on the first floor of her home which many people came to eat at. Now her business has evolved into an actual restaurant. The atmosphere of this spot is very homey and welcoming. That’s the idea she is trying to create and it is a very successful one.

Photo by José A. Alvarado Jr.


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