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Bronzeville, Near South Side

Bronzeville Winery To Build Community With Locally-Sourced Food, Hospitality Incubator: ‘As We Grow, The Neighborhood Around Us Grows’

With homegrown comfort food and a wine list curated by one of the few female Black sommeliers, Bronzeville Winery will offer an "unparalleled experience," owners said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is gifted with a bottle of Champagne at the groundbreaking ceremony for Neighborhood Opportunity Fund recipient Bronzeville Winery as part of the City's INVEST South/West initiative on April 28, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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BRONZEVILLE — A new Black-owned restaurant, wine bar and cultural space will cater to Bronzeville residents and entrepreneurs of color when it opens this summer, its operators said at a groundbreaking Wednesday.

Bronzeville Winery, tentatively set to open at 4420 S. Cottage Grove Ave. in July, is headed by Silver Room owner Eric Williams and managing partner Cecilia Cuff.

Its menu will feature comfort foods like shrimp and grits, french toast and lobster macaroni and cheese, and greens will be grown on-site. The winery will also source ingredients from local community-supported agriculture programs, Cuff said.

“A lot of what we will be able to serve to our diners will actually be sourced from right inside their neighborhood, so as we grow, the neighborhood around us grows with us,” she said.

A wine list curated by Anika Ellison — “one of the few female Black sommeliers” — will offer Bronzeville residents an “unparalled experience” on par with wineries found Downtown and in New York City, Cuff said.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Cecilia Cuff answers questions from the press at the groundbreaking ceremony for Neighborhood Opportunity Fund recipient Bronzeville Winery as part of the CityÕs INVEST South/West initiative on April 28, 2021.

A small stage for “eclectic” musicians and DJs to set the ambience will be on-site, along with a rotating gallery for local artists. Bronzeville Winery will seat about 180 people; 110 can fit inside the storefront, while an outdoor patio space can seat another 70.

The restaurant will also create an incubator program to help more minority entrepreneurs into hospitality careers, Cuff said. Local students and residents “eager to put in the work” will be recruited to learn the skills required to be restaurant owners, chefs and more.

Black and Brown entrepreneurs like Cuff and Williams are key to “restoring social and economic vibrancy” in communities of color, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. She called on banks to “expand your horizons” and put money into historically disinvested neighborhoods.

“If you want to be a Chicago bank, be a Chicago bank — don’t be a bank for one neighborhood only,” Lightfoot said. “Don’t be a bank for a certain class of businesses. … We have very intense conversations with those who can and should be doing more.”

Bronzeville Winery received a $250,000 Neighborhood Opportunity Fund grant last summer. Black residents need “more access to capital and less one-and-done programs” to support their businesses, Cuff said.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Eric Williams, owner of the Silver Room, speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for Neighborhood Opportunity Fund recipient Bronzeville Winery as part of the CityÕs INVEST South/West initiative on April 28, 2021.

The 4400 Grove development where Bronzeville Winery will be housed will serve as an example of equitable public investment, city officials said.

The project redeveloped the former Washington Park Homes public housing complex into 84 units of affordable, public and market-rate housing, as well as twelve minority-owned storefronts.

CBQ Facial Beauty Bar and the House of Africa clothing store are among the “next in line” to open their businesses at 4400 Grove, according to Planning Commissioner Maurice Cox. The Sarah Kuenyefu Collection also received Neighborhood Opportunity Grant funding to open a storefront at the development.

“This mixed-use, mixed-income project shows not only can we provide affordable housing; we can also support small, locally-owned businesses,” Ald. Sophia King (4th) said.

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