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Thanks to EDGE, the dream of opening a restaurant is coming true

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Tomeka Crawford in front of her new store front. | Photo by Eric Crossan

Tomeka Crawford has known that she wanted to own a restaurant since she was 10 years old and she and her mom cooked together. She breaks out in a huge grin when asked how she felt when she heard she won an EDGE grant that will enable her to open Tomeka’s Homestyle Eatery soul food restaurant in a downtown Dover Opportunity Zone.

I was in the New Orleans airport, getting ready to come home from a business trip, when I got the call,” she said. “I’ll admit I was pretty loud. One of the people I was with knew I had applied and captured it on video. I was on top of the world, thinking victory is here. I never thought this was remotely possible but all the hard work has paid off.”

Crawford at her current pop-up food tent. | Photo by Eric Crossan

Crawford has been waiting for this opportunity for more than three decades, exploring her dream of opening a restaurant but blocked by the cost. She’s worked in the financial-services industry and as a nonprofit housing counselor and earned her degree from Wesley College, while also operating a food tent at the Capital City Farmers Market, catering, doing pop-up events around Dover, and honing her business plan.

“I had been working with the Downtown Dover Partnership and heard about the EDGE grant process, but wasn’t optimistic I could get one, but they encouraged me to apply,” Crawford said. “The Delaware Division of Small Business offers a lot of services that helped and I got an awesome coach in Laura Wisler.”

“From the first time I met with her, it was clear how driven to succeed Tomeka was. She had a positive outlook and was always willing to hear open, honest feedback,” said Laura Wisler, DSB’s regional business manager for Kent County. “Seeing her hard work pay off was really rewarding, and I look forward to continuing to work with her as she moves toward opening her restaurant.” 

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