KYMME WILLIAMS-DAVIS NOURISHES HER COMMUNITY THROUGH THE BUSHWICK GRIND CAFE
“In a sea of fast food, there was nowhere to eat healthy,” shared Kymme Williams-Davis, the owner of Bushwick Grind in Brooklyn. Her neighborhood was growing, but it felt fragmented and without options for quality, wholesome foods. She and her husband converted a one-bedroom apartment into their first commercial space, and opened Bushwick Grind to sell coffees and teas, and create a space where people could come together. A place where she could make a difference in her community.
Bushwick Grind grew from the one-bedroom apartment it began in, operating a flourishing storefront and cafe. Then, the pandemic hit. To Kymme, it “felt like the sky was falling.”
Early on during the pandemic, Kymme’s father contracted COVID and, unfortunately, passed away. Other family members also fell ill. Kymme turned her focus from the café to her family. “Operating the store was the passion, not the priority,” she said. She closed Bushwick Grind for nine months.
Kymme spent that time with other business owners and lobbying local politicians for better relief for small home-based businesses, many of whom were ineligible for relief programs. Kymme and her husband opened up their cafe as a pop-up space for others. Kymme said, “That’s what covered our rent. It wasn’t intentional, but an opportunity.”
Kymme also opened a community fridge at Bushwick Grind. While there are now over 100 in the city, the community fridge at Bushwick Grind was among the first ten. It allows the community to help those facing food insecurity. The motto is “take what you need, leave what you can,” and anyone can make donations. It also helps the cafe cut back on food waste, as they can put any leftover food that would have otherwise gotten thrown away into the fridge. To learn more about the impact of Bushwick Grind’s community fridge, watch this short documentary.
Eventually, Kymme was ready to reopen. At a time of much uncertainty, and even fraudulent relief programs emerging, Kymme found Ascendus. Working with Ascendus made her feel secure. She secured an interest-free loan to reopen the café through the Restaurant Future Loan Program. “When you reopen, you need everything. There’s nothing on the shelves,” Kymme said.
Kymme still sees a lot of opportunities to bring fresh and quality food to her neighborhood. She’s set her sights on opening an urban farm and farmers market – which brings fresh, local produce but also learning opportunities for local schools and children. Kymme’s urban farm would be in the first in New York’s five boroughs.
Kymme has long been involved with the health industry. Before opening Bushwick Grind, and even since, she continues her career with WW (formerly Weight Watchers). As an entrepreneur, Kymme is now able to provide her community with healthy food options, with ingredients that can be traced back to their roots for full transparency. Her future goals for the cafe exemplify her commitment to building a healthy, sustainable resource for her community.