How Beyonce assisted a black-owned Miami hotel during COVID

Miami (AP)-Jamila Ross and Aquino West knew that it would take a bit of luck to bring an overtown hotel to the surface during a pandemic.

It can be said that they won the lottery.

Last week, Ross and West received a $ 10,000 grant from the Baygood Foundation for a copper doorbed and breakfast, a collaboration between entertainer Beyonce and NAACP to support a black-owned company affected by the coronavirus. did.

And that’s not all. In August, the couple earned $ 25,000 from Discover Card after opening a pop-up restaurant while the hotel remained largely unmanned due to coronavirus restrictions. Along with small business loans, it allowed couples to reinvest in their business.

It was a fateful shift for Ross and West, who had to find a new way to continue their dream 22-room hotel.

“I just felt like I had a one-millionth chance,” Ross didn’t believe yet.

Ross and West refurbished the abandoned Demetree Hotel in 2018, devoting themselves to the roots of the region’s black culture and turning it into a boutique bed and breakfast. Ross used his hotel experience to run in front of his house, and James Beard award-winning Michael Schwarz’s seasoned chef and protégé West combined it with an upscale soul food menu.

When the hotel was closed for several months due to a pandemic, the couple opened a pop-up called Rosie’s. This is a full-fledged restaurant version that I wanted to eventually open in a hotel. It featured the western view of soul food that was accessible and available for delivery. It became a hit, especially after people began looking for ways to support black-owned businesses in the social justice movement.

Still, Ross, who runs the business side, continued to look for ways to keep his bills paid. They received a discount from the landlord and were eligible for a low-interest federal small business loan. Ross spent two to four hours a day applying for a grant. The couple also partnered with the non-profit World Central Kitchen to pay the restaurant about $ 10 per meal to make about 2,000 meals distributed at polling stations during early voting.

“I crushed my tail and applied the solution to find it,” she said.

A loan, a meal program, and a $ 35,000 grant allowed the couple to reinvest in what they were working for.

They built an outdoor dining area for Rosie’s that can seat 15 people at a time. They built a new large kitchen on a portable trailer behind the hotel and extended business hours from Thursday to Sunday from 9am to 3pm. They still provide delivery and takeaway during those hours.

A pair of small businesses, Say Sukii Florist and Golden Flowers MIA, designed the entrance to the outdoor dining area. A local public relations firm, Dana Agency, also offered three months of free service to highlight minority-owned companies. We also hired two new hires, former internships from Johnson & Wales in North Miami.

“We were able to create a truly cozy space with a super cool urban garden atmosphere,” Ross said. “Energy feels very good.”

Meanwhile, they are investing in keyless app-based door locks as a way to make the hotel more comfortable, focusing on non-contact hotel stays and limiting interactions to limit COVID-19 cases. I will. With the new booking, the hotel occupancy rate has returned to 15-20%. It’s far from the peak season, but it’s enough to keep the lights on. They also offer their outdoor space for small weddings in package deals for couples and their families.

The future is not what Ross calls bright, yet. But during the unpredictable 2020, she and West have hope.

“We started by hitting the bumps on all these roads,” she said. “But we were able to pivot in a number of different ways.”

Copper door

Boutique hotels and Rosie’s pop-up restaurant, 439 NW 4th Avenue, downtown Miami overtown. 305-454-9065,

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How Beyonce assisted a black-owned Miami hotel during COVID

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