WATCH: Chef’s Kitchen Soul Food restaurant completes City of Cocoa, weVENTURE Business Program

Upstart Cocoa supports the growth of minority and/or women-owned small businesses

Chef’s Kitchen, a soul food restaurant in Cocoa, was the first company to successfully complete Cocoa’s new Upstart Cocoa program and gain approval from the Cocoa City Council for a $7,500 repayable business loan. The synergy that Michael Blackwell and Lacy Bussey, above center with Cocoa Mayor Mike Blake, have developed at the Chef’s Kitchen, located at 1070 Clearlake Road, is found in every dish at the restaurant.

Soul food restaurant successfully completed weVENTURE business mentorship program and approved for $7,500 forgivable loan

BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA, FLORIDA – Chef’s Kitchen, a soul food restaurant in Cocoa, was the first company to successfully complete Cocoa’s new Upstart Cocoa program and gain approval from the Cocoa City Council for a business loan refundable of $7,500.

The new program began in 2021 and was designed as a business mentorship grant to attract new or expanding businesses to Cocoa.

Upstart Cocoa is a program designed to promote the growth of minority and/or women-owned small businesses throughout Cocoa City.

The total awarded to selected winners was $10,000, of which $2,500 was allocated to the company to participate in management and mentorship courses through weVENTURE which explores topics such as business management, finance and budgeting, marketing, product/service development and human resources.

Additionally, weVENTURE Ignite 360 ​​business mentors partner with Upstart Cocoa grantees to refine an appropriate business plan for a start-up or expanding business.

Once the business has successfully completed the program, it can receive the remaining portion of the forgivable loan.

Other factors considered for loan approval include the business’s potential economic and fiscal impact on the community and how that business gives back to the community.

The restaurant, which has been in operation for about a year now, has established itself with a 4.6-star review on Google and with the availability of delivery options to the local community.

LOOK: The synergy that Michael Blackwell and Lacy Bussey have developed at the Chef’s Kitchen, located at 1070 Clearlake Road, is reflected in every dish at the restaurant. The business started as an idea inspired by the siblings’ grandmother. Michael and his grandmother regularly prayed for the restaurant idea, but sadly she passed away in August 2021. Her passing served as motivation to continue and the restaurant opened less than a week later.


Owners of Chef’s Kitchen, Chef Michael Blackwell and his sister Lacy Bussey, plan to give back to the community by working with charter school Cocoa Emma Jewel Charter Academy as part of their teacher appreciation week and annual gala Blue and Gold fundraiser, as well as offering free cooking. courses for young people from the Cocoa community.

“We knew we had to do it not just for the funds we were getting from the program, but we had to do it because none of us knew anything about starting and running a successful business,” said said Bussey during his presentation at Cocoa City. Advice.

“We want to thank the City of Cocoa for giving us this opportunity to be part of this Upstart program and for considering us because there were so many other candidates you could have chosen, but you gave us a chance.”

The remaining funds from the loan will be used to help purchase additional equipment, hire an accountant, help with rentals and marketing expenses. The city received 56 applications for two available Upstart Cocoa loans and is excited to see this program grow in the future.

“The development of the Upstart Cocoa program reinforces Cocoa’s efforts to become a prosperous and competitive economic engine along the Space Coast,” said Cocoa Mayor Mike Blake.

“Cocoa is committed to supporting a wide range of small businesses and helping them succeed and contributing to a better quality of life for our entire community. »

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