HYDE PARK — A Black-owned brewing company with plans to open a brewhouse in Chicago and expand to other heavily-Black cities won $10,000 to grow the business at a pitch competition this week.
Moor’s Brewing Company — which sells a session ale, an IPA and an imperial porter — bested four other finalists to win the South Side Pitch competition Thursday at the Polsky Exchange, 1452 E. 53rd St. in Hyde Park.
The $10,000 grand prize will pay for displays in retail stores and travel costs as the brand pushes to expand into Atlanta and other major cities with large populations of Black people.
“This will definitely be a nice drop in the bucket for the whole effort,” said Jamhal Johnson, the brewery’s co-founder and chief financial officer. “We’re looking forward to being part of [South Side Pitch] in the future and helping other entrepreneurs get to this place.”
The South Side Pitch victory comes shortly after the brewery announced it secured placements at numerous Mariano’s locations. That came after a successful “Shark Tank”-like pitch of only a few minutes made to Mariano’s executives this summer.
The other finalists and their awards:
- Second prize, $7,000: The Record Track, a South Chicago-based music and entertainment store in operation for more than three decades. The funds will support the demolition and rebuild of its storefront at 2804 E. 87th St.
- Third prize, $5,000: That’s So Creative LLC, a marketing, communications and website development agency based in Washington Heights and the South Loop. The prize will help CEO CJ Harris hire staff and access technology to run and expand the company’s Brand Ignitor program, a branding service for small local businesses.
- Fourth prize, $3,000: Healthy Substance, a vegan Mexican restaurant at 6852 W. Archer Ave. in Garfield Ridge. The funds will go toward the restaurant’s goal of mass producing shelf-stable, plant-based products that can rival the cost and taste of meat, Chief Financial Officer Miguel Franco said.
- Fifth prize, $1,000: T’Kor Couture, a Woodlawn-based luxury fashion brand specializing in crocheted clothes and accessories. The funds will support raw materials for the clothing, digital marketing and technology to build out the company’s website, designer Dinah T’Kor Clottey said.
The Record Track also won the $2,500 social impact award for its commitment to the community and the $1,000 prize as the audience’s favorite pitch for a total of $10,500.
Co-owners Connie Anderson and Clifton Muhammad envision a “hands-on music experience” inside their rebuilt store. Visitors could learn how to play chords to their favorite songs, take music lessons and interact with local musicians — such as Sean Black, who played guitar during the Record Track’s pitch Thursday.
“Someone would spend about what they spend in a movie theater right now — 15 bucks — and for that amount of money they get to spend time in the space as they please,” Muhammad said. “If you want to come back again and again, you could get an annual membership.”
The Record Track will continue to sell inventory from its online shop at the renovated space. Anderson and Muhammad also want to acquire seven neighboring lots for an outdoor performance venue.
The competition, hosted by the Institute for Justice’s Clinic on Entrepreneurship, awards for-profit, independent companies with fewer than 50 employees based south of Roosevelt Road.
Sista Afya, a South Shore-based mental wellness resource centering Black women, won the 2021 competition. Since then, Sista Afya has hired four therapists “when we thought we were only going to hire two,” Executive Director Camesha Jones said this week.
The center has also doubled its number of clients receiving discounted therapy to at least 30, Jones said.
“South Side Pitch has definitely been impactful,” Jones said. “We’ve been able to grow our revenue. I don’t know if we would be where we are today without winning that contest.”
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