GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Restaurants are ready to reopen their doors to customers after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced last week they could reopen their dining rooms to customers starting Monday.
Jessica Ann Tyson, owner of The Candied Yam along 44th Street in Grand Rapids is going to take an extra day as many black-owned businesses in the city are and plans on reopening Tuesday.
“It really is a great feeling to see and to know that people are going to come through the doors again,” Tyson said. “I get to see all my favorite customers that I haven’t seen in so long. I can’t wait to see them.”
The Candied Yam is never open Mondays, it’s a day of rest observed by many in the black business community, Tyson explains. It will also give her staff an extra day to get ready.
“It’s going to be different for all of us,” Tyson said. “We’re going to hope that our customers offer us grace, offer us a little patience, if you will.”
Serving up “delightful southern cuisine,” food like black eyed peas, cornbread, sweet potatoes tartlets, fried chicken and collard greens. It’s food that bridges many cultural divides.
“I hope that this food, made with my love, does bring people together,” Tyson explains. “I believe that it does.”
She’s seen the power of good cooking. It brings people together.
“I remember one day when we had picnic tables in our restaurant. And it was a beautiful scene. There was a white woman who was probably in her 70s, a black male who was probably in his 20s, and they had a conversation because it was packed,” Tyson said. “I had so much pride in that moment because I could see it in his eyes. I could see it in her eyes that they understood each other on a different level.”
Tyson hopes more moments like these can be served up in The Candied Yam in the coming weeks, it’s something she says the city needs right now.
“I don’t believe all Americans are bad,” Tyson said. “We’re here to love each other and to be a part of each other, understand each other as fabric of the community.”
For the restaurant’s menu and hours of operation, check out their website.