Black Woman-preneur with the Secret Sauce! | IFundWomen Skip to main content

Black Woman-preneur with the Secret Sauce!

Chicago Business Coach pivots from serving up advice to serving up delicious educational foodie experiences for the good of her community.

$1,325
pledged of$75,000 goal
10
17Days Left
Fund it
Campaign Ends on April 30, 2021

Project Description

Hi!

My name is Niquenya Collins and I am the Owner and Executive Chef of Cocoa Chili Restaurant & Catering. Before I get into exactly what we do, I want to share a bit about my home and the community I love.

MY PEOPLE PERISH FOR THE LACK OF KNOWLEDGE!

I live in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on the West side of Chicago. While Chicago is a gorgeous city with a lot to offer, unfortunately, there are many pockets where disadvantaged populations, like those within my own community, are subject to higher instances of unemployment, underemployment, poor financial literacy, homelessness, food scarcity, healthcare disparities, and gun violence.

Furthermore, these communities are often forgotten and rarely have a seat at the table for important decisions affecting them due to fear, lack of education, inadequate resources, systemic racism, cultural and religious discrimination, overpopulation, voter and census oppression, general corruption, and underrepresentation in local government.

Studies have shown that the socioeconomic exclusion of historically disadvantaged minority groups leads to a negative impact in overall human functioning, including adverse physical and mental health issues. It has also been found that repeated trauma experienced by these populations often results in chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  It has long been known that these factors can be combatted with increased awareness, education, and access to resources and opportunities.

The family of 13-year-old Amarià Jones, who was killed by a stray bullet Saturday night at her Austin home. Patrick Smith / WBEZ
The family of 13-year-old Amarià Jones, who was killed in her Austin home by a stray bullet on the night of June 20, 2020. Patrick Smith / WBEZ

 

MY COMMUNITY

Chicago's West Side is composed of nine community areas including West Town, the Near West Side, the Lower West Side, Humboldt Park, East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park, North Lawndale, South Lawndale, and Austin. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the West Side has a total of 480,687 people living in this area.

The average per-capita income in this area is $19,295 with 30% of all households living below the poverty line. The West Side is considered one of the least populated sides of Chicago yet it is very dense per square mile. Increasing foreclosures and gentrification have driven many of the poorer residents, mostly Black and Latino, toward other parts of the city, particularly the South Side and Northwest Side, as well as lower-income suburbs like Cicero and Berwyn.

 

HOW I SERVE

I am driven by a social mission to expose my community to unique, sustainably-sourced educational, foodie experiences that increase awareness and access to opportunities to improve the lives of those whom I serve. 

Networking and Learning Event hosted by Niquenya Collins - Cocoa Chili Restaurant & Catering
Just one of the many networking and learning events I have hosted over the past 25 years.

I am well-known for regularly hosting networking and learning events through which I connect people to the knowledge and resources necessary to succeed in their lives, careers, or businesses. I use these events to not only establish myself as an expert authority, but also to positively impact everyone I touch with unique, educational experiences.

My events have always involved food of some sort and I often make fast friends with the proprietors of local restaurants and other food establishments whom quickly realize they have a powerful partner in me. Because of my love of cooking, more often than not, I have catered many of my events all on my own as well. I learned pretty early on in my career that food is a great incentive to get community members to attend events.


MY COMPANY

Cocoa Chili Foods LLC d/b/a Cocoa Chili Restaurant & Catering is an educational foodie experience serving up Afro-Caribbean-Soul fanfare with a sweet and spicy flair like my authentic Jamaican Jerk Chicken and signature Cocoa Chili.

In addition to my food service, I also manufacture a line of consumer packaged goods (CPGs) like my Spicy Jerk Sauce & Marinade and Cocoa Chili Spice Blend.

The Secret Sauce...

My jerk sauce is so good that a homeless man who smelled its mesmerizing aroma wafting through the neighborhood, stole the marinated meat off the piping hot grill, stuffed it down his shirt, and took off running. No lie!

Customer Testimonial - Cocoa Chili Restaurant & Catering
Trial customer testimonial received on Facebook

 

Since starting our focus groups and taste tests last year, I've seen my sauce drizzled on just about every type of food imaginable. Some of the foods have been so unusual, that we've started to keep a running tally.

  • grilled chicken
  • grilled salmon
  • baked tilapia
  • smoked brisket
  • avocado toast
  • shrimp and grits
  • all kinds of tacos
  • chicken nuggets
  • chopped salad
  • ham sandwich
  • pork tenderloin
  • white rice
  • lamb chops
  • French fries

There's no question that people think my food is amazing. I strive to ensure every bite is an experience in and of itself but, for me, it's not all about the food.

I am driven by a social mission to expose my community to unique, sustainably-sourced, educational foodie experiences that increase awareness and access to opportunities to improve the lives of those whom I serve.

We know that people come together through the universal language of food. Food incorporates all the senses making it the ideal vehicle for experiential learning. Cocoa Chili invites patrons to enjoy new experiences by tantalizing their senses with high quality, tasty, and well-presented meals while simultaneously learning tips and tools to improve their lives. Cocoa Chili educates patrons around a variety of personal and professional development topics such as wellness, entrepreneurship, job readiness, and personal finance. 

My vision is to diminish the effects of exclusion by using delicious food as the catalyst to spark learning, encourage conversation, ignite creativity, and evoke innovation to improve the lives of those whom we serve. 

I plan to host an empowerment series, both online and eventually through in-person events, called 'Table Talk' through which community members can eat, network, and learn invaluable tools they can immediately implement to improve their lives. I hope to partner with local small businesses who can serve as subject matter experts in this series which will also provide participating businesses with an additional marketing platform to increase their own brand visibility in the marketplace and further stimulate economic growth within my West Side community.

Jerk Chicken by Chef Niquenya - Cocoa Chili Restaurant
My famous jerk chicken with coconut rice and beans, cabbage, and fried plantain.

FUNDING NEEDS

Due to the pandemic, I have been unable to raise funds through my normal income streams which were heavily reliant upon hosting networking and learning events or being invited as an expert speaker by various organizations. My personal income has stalled from client cancellations and much of my savings have dried up preventing me from being able to fully invest in the launch of this new venture as previously planned. 

Funds raised would go directly into solidifying Cocoa Chili's foundation to ensure I not only launch successfully, but also grow into a sustainable and profitable business long-term.  Your generous contribution goes towards purchasing...

  • Smallwares like pots, hotel pans, carryout trays, and utensils
  • Kitchen appliances like an ice machine and Robot Coupe
  • Catering equipment and supplies like Cambro hot and cold boxes
  • Food inventory for resell as prepared meals
  • HAACP Planning for our Consumer Packaged Goods (CPGs)
  • Administrative software (Accounting, POS, Inventory Control, Zoom subscription)
  • Marketing campaigns (Facebook Ads, Google Ads, EDDM)
  • Employee payroll including hiring of 1 additional team member

IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR

My initial startup team will include close family members with a food and customer service background who can immediately assist me in getting Cocoa Chili Restaurant & Catering off the ground; however, my hope is to bring on at least one additional non-family, team member within three months and eventually grow to a full staff as we transition from our current incubation within the shared kitchen spaces at The Hatchery and into our own physical restaurant space.

Pictured from left to right is Owner & Executive Chef Niquenya Collins, Chef & Kitchen Manager Brian Fulbright, and Food Runner Kahari Ward
Pictured from left to right is Owner & Executive Chef Niquenya Collins, Chef & Kitchen Manager Brian Fulbright, and Food Runner Kahari Ward

I am the Owner and Executive Chef of Cocoa Chili Restaurant & Catering. I am a major foodie, self-proclaimed chocoholic, and trained chef thanks to the Silver Fork Culinary Program at Center on Halsted in Chicago. For almost 25 years, I have also served small business owners, aspiring entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, and career transitioners as a Master Business Coach and Life Skills Strategist specializing in transforming dreamers into successful entrepreneurs and leaders into effective agents of change. Cocoa Chili Restaurant & Catering allows me to marry two of my greatest passions - cooking up delicious ethnic foods and helping people to improve the quality of their lives.

My younger brother, Brian P. Fulbright, Jr., is also a trained chef. He graduated from Inspiration Cafe's Culinary Program. He has been working in food service for over 20 years in a variety of roles from dishwasher to sous chef. He has shared his love of food and cooking at local foodie destinations such as Mei Shung Chinese Restaurant and the ever popular Eataly Chicago as well as for several nonprofit kitchens throughout Chicago.

My son, Kahari Ward, is a college freshman and experienced food runner. Kahari has learned the ins and outs of customer satisfaction through his work at Jet's Pizza and the exclusive Michigan Shores Club. He will bring his experience and youthful exuberance to his customer-facing role as a Food Runner for our pickup and delivery services as well as maintaining our social media presence.

THANK YOU!

Anything you can give, be it large or small, is a blessing. Your contributions are sincerely appreciated!  Thank you so much for helping my small, black, and woman-owned business get off the ground.

My sincerest gratitude,

Coach Chef Niquenya

The Campaign FAQs

Are you open yet?

We have our Grand Opening set for February 1, 2021 when we will officially start taking orders from the general public.

Where are you located?

We are currently being incubated out of The Hatchery Chicago located at 135 N. Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60612.  Order pickup is at the back of the building on the northeast side, corner of Albany and Maypole.

Do you have dine-in seating?

No. The Hatchery is an incubator for food businesses and only offers shared kitchen spaces to startups. We do plan to graduate from our shared kitchen space to a full-fledged restaurant space once the pandemic has subsided and we are generating enough revenue to sustain long-term growth in our operations.

Do you deliver?

Currently we offer pickup only; however, we will be adding DoorDash as our preferred delivery partner.

Do you cater?

Yes, we do offer catering. If you are interested in catering, please email us at orders@cocoachili.com.

What forms of payment do you accept?

We take all major credit and debit cards via Stripe or PayPal. We do not take cash at this time and checks are not accepted.

Have additional questions or concerns?

Visit our website at cocoachili.com.

 

 

Rob.
03/29/2021
$5 Off eCoupon
$10
03/07/2021
Personal Chef Home Dining Experience
$1,000
03/05/2021
Monetary Contribution
$100
Marie Stringer
03/02/2021
2-oz Cocoa Chili Spice Blend
$25
ErsieD
03/01/2021
12-oz Spicy Jerk Sauce & Marinade
$50
Susan S Pastin
03/01/2021
Monetary Contribution
$35
02/06/2021
12-oz Spicy Jerk Sauce & Marinade
$50
LaVella Bailey
02/01/2021
2-oz Cocoa Chili Spice Blend
$25
Alissa Weller
01/26/2021
$5 Off eCoupon
$25
01/25/2021
Monetary Contribution
$5
Monetary Contribution

Just Because I Care

3 Supporters
Select this reward
5.00 USD
Social Media Shoutout

We'll tweet you a 'Thank you" and include you in a weekly Facebook post.

0 Supporters
Select this reward
10.00 USD
$5 Off eCoupon

We'll send you an eCoupon to take $5 off your first meal purchase from our restaurant and shout you out on social media!

2 Supporters
Select this reward
25.00 USD
2-oz Cocoa Chili Spice Blend

Experience a taste of our signature Cocoa Chili Spice Blend at home. Use this delicious, aromatic spice as a rub on a variety of meats or to add a sweet and spicy flair to desserts or your own chili con carne. Enjoy the spice blend, plus a $5 off coupon for your first order, and a social media shoutout.

2 Supporters
Select this reward
100.00 USD
16-oz Spicy Jerk Sauce & Marinade ValPak

Get the pint-sized version of our authentic Jamaican Jerk Sauce, a 2-oz jar of Cocoa Chili Spice Blend, a $5 off coupon for your first meal from our restaurant, and a social media shoutout.

0 Supporters
Select this reward
250.00 USD
Family Meal for 4 ValuPak

Voucher redeemable for meal for 4 at our restaurant with your choice of one entrée, two sides, and 4 beverages. Includes 16-oz jar of Spicy Jerk Sauce & Marinade, 4-oz Cocoa Chili Spice Blend, $5 off coupon for your first order from our restaurant, and social media shout out.

0 Supporters
Select this reward
500.00 USD
Family Meal for 8 ValuPak

Voucher redeemable for meal for 8 at our restaurant with your choice of two entrées, four sides, and 8 beverages. Includes 16-oz jar of Spicy Jerk Sauce & Marinade, 2-oz Cocoa Chili Spice Blend, $5 off coupon for your first order from our restaurant, and social media shout out.

0 Supporters
Select this reward
1,000.00 USD
Personal Chef Home Dining Experience

In-home meal prepared for 6 including your choice of one appetizer, two entrées, three sides, one dessert, and 6 beverages. Includes 16-oz jar of Spicy Jerk Sauce & Marinade, 2-oz Cocoa Chili Spice Blend, $5 off coupon for your first order from our restaurant, and social media shout out. 

Please note that in-home dining experience can only be provided for local customers within 50 miles of 60612 zip code.

9 Left
1 Supporter
Select this reward
2,500.00 USD
Small Event Catering for 10

Catered meal for up to a party of 10 includes your choice of one appetizer, two entrées, three sides, one dessert, and beverages from our restaurant catering menu. Setup, two-hour service, and cleanup included.

Available only to local customers within 50 miles of restaurant zip code 60612.

10 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
5,000.00 USD
Large Event Catering for 20

Catered meal for up to a party of 20 includes your choice of two appetizers, two entrées, four sides, two desserts, and beverages from our restaurant catering menu. Setup, two-hour service, and cleanup included.

Available only to local customers within 50 miles of restaurant zip code 60612.

5 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward

Rewards

Monetary Contribution

Just Because I Care

3 Supporters
Select this reward
5.00 USD
Social Media Shoutout

We'll tweet you a 'Thank you" and include you in a weekly Facebook post.

0 Supporters
Select this reward
10.00 USD
$5 Off eCoupon

We'll send you an eCoupon to take $5 off your first meal purchase from our restaurant and shout you out on social media!

2 Supporters
Select this reward
25.00 USD
2-oz Cocoa Chili Spice Blend

Experience a taste of our signature Cocoa Chili Spice Blend at home. Use this delicious, aromatic spice as a rub on a variety of meats or to add a sweet and spicy flair to desserts or your own chili con carne. Enjoy the spice blend, plus a $5 off coupon for your first order, and a social media shoutout.

2 Supporters
Select this reward
100.00 USD
16-oz Spicy Jerk Sauce & Marinade ValPak

Get the pint-sized version of our authentic Jamaican Jerk Sauce, a 2-oz jar of Cocoa Chili Spice Blend, a $5 off coupon for your first meal from our restaurant, and a social media shoutout.

0 Supporters
Select this reward
250.00 USD
Family Meal for 4 ValuPak

Voucher redeemable for meal for 4 at our restaurant with your choice of one entrée, two sides, and 4 beverages. Includes 16-oz jar of Spicy Jerk Sauce & Marinade, 4-oz Cocoa Chili Spice Blend, $5 off coupon for your first order from our restaurant, and social media shout out.

0 Supporters
Select this reward
500.00 USD
Family Meal for 8 ValuPak

Voucher redeemable for meal for 8 at our restaurant with your choice of two entrées, four sides, and 8 beverages. Includes 16-oz jar of Spicy Jerk Sauce & Marinade, 2-oz Cocoa Chili Spice Blend, $5 off coupon for your first order from our restaurant, and social media shout out.

0 Supporters
Select this reward
1,000.00 USD
Personal Chef Home Dining Experience

In-home meal prepared for 6 including your choice of one appetizer, two entrées, three sides, one dessert, and 6 beverages. Includes 16-oz jar of Spicy Jerk Sauce & Marinade, 2-oz Cocoa Chili Spice Blend, $5 off coupon for your first order from our restaurant, and social media shout out. 

Please note that in-home dining experience can only be provided for local customers within 50 miles of 60612 zip code.

9 Left
1 Supporter
Select this reward
2,500.00 USD
Small Event Catering for 10

Catered meal for up to a party of 10 includes your choice of one appetizer, two entrées, three sides, one dessert, and beverages from our restaurant catering menu. Setup, two-hour service, and cleanup included.

Available only to local customers within 50 miles of restaurant zip code 60612.

10 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
5,000.00 USD
Large Event Catering for 20

Catered meal for up to a party of 20 includes your choice of two appetizers, two entrées, four sides, two desserts, and beverages from our restaurant catering menu. Setup, two-hour service, and cleanup included.

Available only to local customers within 50 miles of restaurant zip code 60612.

5 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward