Chicago’s Matteson community is celebrating extraordinary business growth in the midst of a worldwide pandemic with the opening of three new businesses on the same day. That day Matteson Mayor Sheila Chalmers-Currin cut the ribbon for a new Pete’s Fresh Market, she and local officials also celebrated the Red Star Restaurant and Sip & Savor Coffee Shop grand opening.
Experienced entrepreneurs, Adam Shorter, and Trez Pugh collaborated to bring together the “Best of Both Worlds” for the Black communities in the Southland with the opening of their Black-owned restaurant Red Star and Sip & Savor coffee house on February 3, 2021.
Shorter is a serial entrepreneur and community activist who has successfully owned six restaurants including Redwood Luxe in Olympia Fields. He latest endeavor, Red Star restaurant, reaffirms his belief in the importance of promoting top quality family-friendly Black-owned businesses in minority neighborhoods. He is currently a local elected official, who serves on several boards and donates his time frequently to local charities in the Southland including Sickle Schmickle, a non-profit dedicated to sickle cell awareness.
Shorter’s vision for Red Star is to create a happy place for the community where friends and family can gather and business can be handled. The restaurant caters to Matteson’s broad community of families, entrepreneurs and college students. Known for his prolific community activism, Shorter felt it was important to invest in his own community and to partner with another Black-owned business to help set a precedent for future establishments in the community.
“If we continue to build here, we know others will invest in the Southland” noted Shorter. “We have come to realize that big box restaurants don’t want to come to minority communities, so I took on the initiative to build what our community needs. My goal is to build top quality African American-owned restaurants, our community deserves nothing less.”
Shorter said that he decided to partner with Sip & Savor because it was one of the few African American coffeehouses around. In bringing their resources together, Shorter and Pugh can share the cost of marketing, communication, and various other overhead expenses.
Said Shorter, “Your vision might be too big for you independently but together we can do great things. We are here to set the tone and let businesses know we are stronger together.”
Trez Pugh is the owner of three Sip & Savor locations, with two in Bronzeville and one in Hyde Park. Pugh said the new Matteson location will be the first Sip & Savor in the south suburbs of Chicago. Sip and Savor supports other local business by carrying pastries and small bites from local bakers and bakeries. He has appeared on several radio stations as a guest speaker on their business round table segments discussing topics ranging from business start-up costs, employee empowerment, challenges facing entrepreneurs’ and Micro Lending.
Pugh jumped on the opportunity to collaborate with Shorter and was encouraged through an introduction from his marketing partner, Keeana Barber, who pointed out that Shorter and Pugh shared similar characteristics when it came to quality, service, and community. Both Shorter and Pugh were Chicago Defender Men of Excellence and Small Businessmen of the Year several times.
“It’s extremely important for Black businesses to remain visible for our youth, consistent for our customers, and helpful towards the community,” said Pugh. “My goal has always been to create jobs and change communities. During these most difficult and challenging times, it is extremely important that we show resilience and fortitude. I keep a high standard for all my coffee houses. We base our reputation on what I call the Five C’s (Crisp, Clean, Classy, Consistent, Customer Service). I want people to partake in great coffee, great food, and great conversation!”
The restaurants will have a combined footprint of 5,000 square feet, featuring a modern upscale feel, an area for live entertainment, an outdoor patio and gaming options.