2700 Shadeland Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Michael Blackwell’s church bought a vacant bar and turned it into a café & creamery, which eventually closed. Two years later, Blackwell was led to occupy the space with a new business.
“I came in one day, and I looked around, and I saw the possibility. I know that the vision that I received came from God,” said Blackwell.
The vision was Café on the Corner. “We started off being a deli,” says Blackwell’s wife and co-owner Lateresa.
“The community embraced that, but it was not going to keep the lights on,” said Lateresa. “We launched my husband’s favorite Pittsburgh famous crabmeat chicken gumbo over rice and cornbread. That took Café on the Corner from zero to hero. The gumbo really put us on the map.”
After feedback from the community, the Blackwells expanded their menu to include items like smoked ribs, homemade macaroni and cheese, collard greens with smoked turkey, candied
yams, and homemade peach cobbler.
In addition to serving food, the Blackwells use Café on the Corner to operate their nonprofit, The Kitchen of Grace, where they work with at-risk youth teaching hospitality skills. Once the pandemic hit they pivoted their program to make and deliver 200 meals a day, Tuesday through Friday.
“We turned our dining facility into a mass meal production area and are reaching out to our community where the food insecurity is real. It behooves me and my husband to be a blessing to those who had a need,” said Lateresa.
The Blackwells say they saw a spike in business once word spread about their free meal giveaway and are thankful for all the support.
“People want to know that they are being treated with kindness. When they come in, they are not just buying food. They are supporting a real cause for what we are doing in our community,” said Lateresa.