Daring to dream in a pandemic

CARVER 47 FOOD & WELLNESS OWNER Monica Haslip stands in her renovated eatery, which opened for takeout service on Tuesday. (Photo by Erick Johnson)

As dozens of Chicago restaurants close their doors, Monica Haslip holds a ribbon cutting ceremony for her eatery, Carver 47 as a tribute to pioneer George Washington Carver

By Erick Johnson

The aroma of Black Cat Double Expresso wafted through the room as fresh apple cider tonic and blueberry muffins enticed a discerning customer. The scent of pine along with weathered wooden bar countertops and oversized benches create a stylish, rustic yet urban atmosphere. Then there are the Belgian Waffles for breakfast and the pumpkin soup and leg of lamb, the special Thanksgiving dinner on the takeout menu.

It’s Carver 47 Food & Wellness.

Shuttered at one time by the pandemic, this eatery near Bronzeville is open for business once again. Owner Monica Haslip is determined to defy the odds, reopening her renovated eatery during the resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic.

With at least 49 Chicago restaurants permanently closed because of dwindling revenues, Haslip took a risk and reopened on Tuesday, November 23, one day after hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony to usher in a new era of hope and uncertainty for Carver 47.

CARVER 47 FOOD & WELLNESS Chef Lizz Wright and Owner Monica Haslip led the ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday.

The Crusader interviewed Haslip during a special media preview of the Carver 47.

“There were moments of discouragement, where we were not sure on what to do. But I’ve always, over the last 26 years, my goal has been to look at the needs of the community and figure out what we can do in the space we’re in. This is a dark moment for all of us and we need light. We need people to take the risk to do what feels impossible amid a very challenging moment so everybody can stay hopeful.”

Carver 47 is in the Little Black Pearl Art & Design Academy, which Haslip opened 26 years ago.

In 2017, Haslip opened Carver 47 in a vacant classroom in the facility. The eatery gradually became a popular hangout for locals. Carver 47 closed in March after the pandemic struck Chicago.

That’s when Carver 47, a Black-owned business was given a breathtaking makeover of its 2,700 square foot space at 1050 E. 47th St. With a $76,000 grant from the city of Chicago’s Neighborhood Opportunity Grant, Haslip was able to renovate her eatery while it was closed.

Haslip created the interior design herself. There’s natural wood throughout the eatery. Exquisite black tiles cover the ceiling. There are also new restrooms.

With its mix of wooden shelving, black tiled-ceilings and mosaic-tiled tables, Carver 47 is a work of art that includes murals and canvasses of Black pioneer George Washington Carver, after whom the eatery is named.

“George Washington Carver has always been somebody to me that’s underrated. This is about changing the narrative of one our icons and to make sure that he’s not remembered as the peanut man. He was an extraordinary humanitarian, he was a painter, a musician. All of these things we don’t know about this incredible African American man who made huge impact on our history.”

The eatery serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner entrees and offers healthy foods. There’s a wooden wagon full of fresh produce and various types of olive oil.

The Carver 47 menu was created by renowned chef Lizz Wright, a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City.

“One must cultivate their own internal garden,” says Wright.

“I want people to come to Carver 47 to feel loved and seen. We want to give people a moment for themselves. Especially during the holidays when stresses are high, Carver 47 is a beacon of support to help families experience joy together at the dinner table. Food offers a sense of community and communion. The pureness of the ingredients allows for pathways of connection to the earth. Having Carver 47 and a sustainable vegetable garden in the middle of Hyde Park is very healing. I feel the spirit of the neighborhood, and I’m blessed to be a part of it.”

While its dining area is closed because of the pandemic, Carver 47 under Wright is offering a Holiday Dinner Box series that includes Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner boxes.

THE THANKSGIVING DINNER BOX AT CARVER 47 includes Roasted Leg of Lamb (or Roasted Pork Loin), chicken pot pie, cauliflower macaroni and cheese, pumpkin soup and farm carrot salad with radicchio and arugula.

For the Thanksgiving Dinner Box, there is a choice of roasted leg of lamb or roasted pork loin. The meal comes with pumpkin soup and farm carrot salad with radicchio and arugula. The Dinner Box can be ordered for two, four, or six to eight people.

Carver 47 also has a menu for breakfast takeout dishes, including affy tapple pancakes, Belgian waffles and breakfast sandwiches.

Customers can also place takeout orders for Carver 47’s natural juice beverages and smoothies, made fresh daily, on site.

For a full menu, go to carver47.com.

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