Help Erica Open Her Juke Joint!

Help Chef Erica Montgomery, owner of Erica’s Soul Food, open Erica’s Juke Joint in Portland, OR.


Hi community,
Erica here. I’m learning how to be good at asking for, and allowing help. This is a skill I strongly encourage everyone to hone. It’s not easy, but I’m giving it a shot because we need each other to succeed. Please help me fundraise for my dream of opening my very own Juke Joint.


The hardest part of being a Black, single mom/entrepreneur has been navigating a game and system that is set up for me to fail. According to Forbes, from 2009-2019 Black women had access to only 0.27% of $267.7 secured start up funds. Everything you have seen me accomplish has been done without any investors. This is my blood sweat and tears. I’m learning, though, and there has to be a way to combat these statistics. I am fortunate to live in a city with a mindset focused on making a difference when it comes to Black-owned businesses. You show up and you show out and have helped me get to where I am today. Opening this space will allow me to be the very best version of myself, pouring all of that right back into this beautiful city that swallowed me up and made me whole again. This is our dream now!


When I started my food cart in January 2020, it was on a whim, just like my decision to move to Portland. It has evolved into not only a thriving business, but also an opportunity to build stronger relationships with my family, grow meaningful connections with other entrepreneurs, and to provide others with nourishment, and kindness. The city received me with an open heart, and for the first time in my life I feel seen, heard, supported, and encouraged. I’ve grown to love myself, increasing my ability to care for, and inspire my community. The city even rallied around me to gather most of the down payment for a custom food cart of my own. What came next is why I’m trying this again. You all have given me the strength to persevere time and time again, after countless acts of racism and harassment, that continue to this day. We have grown together and are positioned to actively take up more space.


From the internet, a “Juke joint is the vernacular term for an informal establishment featuring music, dancing, gambling, and drinking, primarily operated by African Americans in the southeastern United States. A juke joint may also be called a ‘barrelhouse’.”


Sounds salacious, as things created by African Americans from the South often are lol, but my understanding of this is that it was a safe space created for, and by the Black community amidst their newly established freedom. I’ve always had a very strong intuition, and an ability to see a bit into the future, a skill I’ve only recently been able to recognize. Growing up watching the Color Purple, what felt like a million times, I was fascinated by the character Shug Avery. She was a troubled wanderer, much like I would eventually become. She fought for her life, and found her voice, filling Sophia’s Juke Joint with a song reminding sisters everywhere to remember their name, and that “sinners have soul too.”


I’ve always wanted a restaurant, I’ve always wanted to sing for people and share musical moments, and I’ve always wanted to use my maternal nature to make people feel loved. When you add this to the fact that my cart is limiting and just doesn’t support the amount of business I am receiving, this tells me it’s time to step into the next phase of my greatness, to take up even more space, and take even more of my people with me, by opening my very own Juke Joint, in addition to the cart. I want to own a space where I can welcome myself and others into emotional safety, and love.


With the help of my community, I can secure a brick and mortar with a kitchen that can support the catering that I love to do, while opening up space to allow you to enjoy my food, along with a cultural experience curated by myself. I would also be able to grow my team, pay them a living wage, and invest in the development of their own professional goals. I can thrive in this environment, with the long term goal of consuming an entire block (or more), complete with affordable housing for single working parents, people with mental health struggles, homeless LGBTQIA+ youth, and anyone else suffering from housing insecurity. It’s so much bigger than food, and my dream goes on and on as long as I live. Will you help me get there?
  • Anonymous 
    • $25 
    • 18 d
  • Anonymous 
    • $25 
    • 18 d
  • Anonymous 
    • $30 
    • 25 d
  • Sophia Barre 
    • $30 
    • 1 mo
  • Boop Boop! 
    • $25 
    • 1 mo
See all

Organizer

Erica Montgomery 
Organizer
Portland, OR