The Main Street Strong Accelerator online curriculum is open to all restaurant owners at no cost. Restaurateurs can complete the courses at their own pace, with content and topics designed to address some of the core challenges they face when trying to grow and scale their business
Finding Your Niche and Defining Your Brand
Build a Financial Roadmap to Access Capital
All Things Legal
Hiring & Employee Relations
Creating the Right Menu
Marketing Like a Pro
Scale Your Business
Meet the 17 local restaurants that make up our Main Street Strong Accelerator - Boston Cohort Class of 2022! The Accelerator participants represent a diverse cohort of restaurateurs and business owners. Overall, 47% of Main Street Strong Accelerator participants are women; 76% of participants identify as immigrants or refugees; 70% identify as people of color. These Boston restaurateurs will be guided through the Accelerator curriculum by local chefs and entrepreneurs, receive a $20,000 grant, one-on-one business coaching, and the opportunity to connect with other local restaurant owners:
When Chris Thigpen purchased Corner Cafe Newton right before the pandemic, he’d never worked in the restaurant industry. Corner Cafe Newton is a small breakfast and lunch spot–a true neighborhood joint. Chris knows most of his patrons on a first-name basis and exhibits work from local artists on the walls. During slow months of quarantine, Chris started a free meal campaign for local students who relied on school lunches for food. He is proud to have pulled through the pandemic and is ready to focus on growth and scaling to full potential.
Adilai Shadike and Aishanjiang Kuerban are partners in running Silk Road Uyghur Cuisine. Silk Road is the only Uyghur restaurant in Massachusetts. It opened 5 years ago and has never been closed for a single day since. Part of the mission of the restaurant is to raise awareness about the persecution of the Uyghur people in Western China by the Chinese government and to teach Americans about Uyghur culture––to build a bridge between Uyghurs and Americans.
Bruce and Tatiana Sabokrooh, husband and wife, loved going to different restaurants to try different types of food and analyze the pros and cons of different businesses. This hobby, as well as their passion for healthy comfort food, gave them the idea to open their own restaurant and give the best they could to their customers. It has been a great, if challenging journey. They learned a lot on the way that made them stronger.
Baheja Rostami comes from a big family with many wonderful, strong women who love to cook and know their way around the kitchen. They taught her to cook at a young age and she has loved cooking since. In 2010, she opened Ariana Restaurant, which serves cuisine from Afghanistan, with her husband. To Baheja, the restaurant represents her background, her country, and most of all, Afghanistan’s hospitable culture. When you are in her restaurant, you are a guest in her home. In this way, Ariana serves not only Afghani food, but a little culture too.
Both Yasonia and Ashley Lubin have backgrounds in and passions for health and fitness. Yasonia has been a certified Health Coach for a number of years and Ashley has worked diligently in the sales field for close to 20 years. When the couple introduced juicing and smoothies into their everyday lives, they noticed a profound impact. So they opened Décolleté Juicery, first a truck and now a brick-and-mortar space, hoping to promote health and wellness and inspire other would-be entrepreneurs in their community.
Morad Bouzid’s love for cooking stems from his childhood growing up in Morocco, helping his mother in the kitchen. He moved to the U.S. in his 20s and worked at a number of fine dining restaurants in Atlantic City and Boston, but he always wanted to have a business of his own. He knew that the kind of food he liked to cook was unique (and delicious), so he decided to test the market by opening a food truck. The early days were tough because the American market wasn’t familiar with Moroccan food, but Morad persisted, eventually attracting a steady food truck and catering customer base. Morad is trying to grow the business despite pandemic difficulties. He has now opened a restaurant stall in Boston Public Market and his next goal is to get a brick and mortar restaurant of his own.
Phouthanome (Joy) Phoubaykham is a first generation immigrant whose family came from Laos. She began working in restaurants when she was 13 and started dreaming of owning one shortly after. She started off as a server, then worked in many different positions in the restaurant business. This experience has helped her along the way. She enjoys cooking and eating. Neighborhood Kitchen serves a fusion of Asian and Caribbean cuisines and aims to provide its community with a safe space where many cultures can enjoy variety and flavor. During the pandemic, Neighborhood Kitchen provided lunches to food-insecure children and provided food to nurses and medical staff.
Denise O'Marde and Fiex B. Thevenin are the owners and operators of Cafe Juice Up in Mattapan, Massachusetts. Both of Caribbean descent, Denise is from Antigua & Barbuda, and Fiex is from Haïti. Though they had experience in various fields, they had never worked in the food and restaurant industry before opening their juice bar together in 2019. They are proud to serve affordable and nutritious alternatives to the presently available food in their community. They hope to help people get a quick, convenient, and tasty daily fruit and vegetable serving!
Marcia Satchell is a graduate of Northeastern University and holds a MBA from Chadron State University. She has been cooking since she was ten years old. It was her grandmother that taught her the art of cooking. She was able to pursue her dream by opening Blue Mountain Jamaican Restaurant in Boston where she serves various Jamaican, American, vegetarian, and vegan dishes. To Marcia, watching the joy on customers’ faces and receiving their positive feedback makes it all worth every moment spent prepping and cooking. She is excited to be a part of the restaurant industry, changing the way people eat by giving her customers choices.
Cheiha “Mimi” Chleuh is the Owner of Bon Appetit Creperie, a stall in the Boston Public Market, which she runs with the help of her twin daughters, Salma and Samira. They opened in July 2018. The family moved to East Boston ten years ago from Timbuktu in Mali, the West African country and former French colony. Mimi has always been a passionate and excellent home cook. Her vision for Bon Appetit Creperie is to be the McDonald’s for crepes. Prior to starting Bon Appetit Creperie, Mimi was a Teacher at Harvard University in the African Languages Department.
Born in Albania in 1987, Erin Bashllari moved to the US in 2000 where he peeled potatoes at his uncle’s diner as a prep cook, studied nursing, and eventually became both manager of the diner and an emergency room nurse. But he always wanted to open his own diner. In 2017, Erin took a hiatus from nursing and purchased what is now Donut Villa Diner in Malden. Khadija Bashllari is the Senior Manager of Programs and Strategic Alliances at Moderna Therapeutics. Her background is in business consulting and she has worked all over the world. With Khadija’s help, Erin recently opened a second location in Cambridge.
Wendy and Alan Issokson had the idea for Chill on Park during the summer of 2014 and they worked hard to make it a reality. Chill on Park is a gathering place in the heart of Field’s Corner, Dorchester. It is a neighborhood destination where adults and children can come together to enjoy locally made ice cream, coffee, smoothies, pastries, and more. Wendy is committed to creating an environment that customers and their families will want to return to again and again. They are passionate about their desserts and coffee, and pride themselves on bringing great quality, value, and service to the customer experience.
In April 2018, two months after Eddie Oscar Garcia Jr. and Ana Celia Ribeiro got married, they jumped into the idea of buying a restaurant. Eddie loves to cook, Ana Celia has experience in business management, and they both enjoy big gatherings of family and friends. Of course that wasn't all they needed, but they were determined to start their hospitality entrepreneurship. Today, La Catrina is a local business cooking up traditional and street-style Mexican food with a Caribbean twist––and with love. The restaurant does not use plastic, and is committed to become more sustainable every day.
Huseyin Kocaman moved to the US from Turkey 20 years ago. He decided to open a restaurant because he believes that being a small business owner is one of the best ways to connect with a community and that food is a great way to build connections and start conversations. He enjoys getting to know his diverse customers and donating pizzas to local events and hospitals. Inbound Pizza serves a combination of Middle Eastern and American classics like pizza, kebabs, shawarma, and subs.
Tracy Chang is the chef and owner of PAGU, a Japanese tapas restaurant in Cambridge. She is an alum of Boston College, Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and the James Beard Foundation Bootcamp for Policy & Change. Chang was a 2020 James Beard Best Chef Northeast nominee and a 2020 Star Chefs Rising Stars Game Changer. During Covid-19, she co-founded Off Their Plate, which serves meals to healthcare workers in Covid-19 wards while providing economic relief to restaurant employees and Project Restore Us, which employs restaurant workers to pack groceries for essential worker families in high-covid, low-income neighborhoods. Through food and service, PAGU aims to celebrate family, friends, innovation, and creativity.
Khalid Karroumi worked with and around food for many years before deciding to start his own halal pizza restaurant. He enjoys donating food to local churches, mosques, police departments, schools, and sports teams.
After a rough start in life, Joseph Spagnuolo-Kazonis decided to turn things around. He made a promise to himself to be self-sufficient and successful. And he decided to do it by opening a restaurant serving the classic Italian food he grew up eating with his family––but with a modern twist. He’d been missing his grandmother’s arancinis and decided he could make his own. In Italian culture, food is in the center of all get-togethers and Joseph hopes to make those get-togethers flavorful and full of happy memories for all who dine at Cini’s.
In early 2021, 100 restaurateurs from five cities went through the Accelerator guided by some of the industry’s most recognized entrepreneurs and chefs. These local cohorts participants represent a diverse cohort of restaurateurs and business owners.
Previous participants were comprised of:
identify as immigrant or refugee
identify as Black or African American
identify as Latino, Latinx, or Hispanic
identify as East Asian
identify as South Asian
Businesses and the people behind them are vital to the culture, spirit, and economic health of local communities, and the Main Street Strong Accelerator provides the capital, support, and marketing they need to grow. Participating businesses will have access to:
- 8-week curriculum designed to stabilize, adapt, and grow your business for long-term success
- 1:1 financial, legal, and other support from industry experts
- $20,000 in grants to keep your restaurant open
- Free merchandising and marketing benefits from DoorDash
The application is designed to glean a better understanding of the business’ long term goals and their involvement in their local communities. A rubric will be used to review and score each application. The rubric is based on the application questions and the program's overall objective to support the business owner's plan.
Yes, all selected applicants will then go through an interview with local partners and the Accelerator team before final selection for the cohort.
To date, we've hosted 5 local cohorts in the U.S. and are looking forward to expanding over time as part of DoorDash's commitment to supporting local economies. To stay up to date on our local cohorts, please visit news.doordash.com.
No. Applications to the program are open to eligible restaurants regardless of whether they are current DoorDash or Caviar partners.
Participants will receive $10,000 at the beginning of the program, and $10,000 at the conclusion. The goal of the Accelerator program is to help entrepreneurs not only learn hard skills necessary for adapting to challenges of running a small business, but to create very unique tailored business plans to apply to their restaurants for the future.
Our online accelerator curriculum is available in Spanish. If you have additional access needs to participate in the Accelerator, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. While the format of the Accelerator local cohorts are best suited for proficient English speakers, we’re committed to supporting language access and look forward to providing resources that address multilingual needs.