Wall Street Cafe in Suffolk is inspired by Tulsa’s former Black business district

Local News

Tulsa's Greenwood District, know as "Black Wall Street," was destroyed during the Tulsa race massacre in 1921.

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — This holiday season, a unique cafe in Suffolk will open its doors to help small businesses.

Wall Street Cafe is in the heart of Suffolk on W. Washington Street.

Norfolk native Danita Hayes, co-owner and entrepreneur, said Wall Street Cafe is inspired by the beauty of the former “Black Wall Street” in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The thriving Black business district was destroyed during the Tulsa race massacre of 1921, one of the deadliest terror attacks on United States soil.

“It was a tragedy. However, we don’t focus on the tragedy,” Hayes said. “We focus on what those people were able to do when they came together as a community and what they were able to accomplish. We’re trying to recreate that here in Downtown Suffolk!”

Wall Street Cafe opened during the pandemic. “We’re not just here to serve you coffee, drinks and good food. We have that, but we are also here to educate,” Hayes said. “We consider ourselves to be a staple in the community and we are here to educate the community about entrepreneurship, real estate, the stock market, [and] cryptocurrency.”

There is space to learn, with classes and workshops all on ways to generate wealth. “We have a business culture,” explains Hayes. “It’s our responsibility as business owners to be leaders in the community.”

On the first Saturday of December, Wall Street Cafe will host a pop-up shop. 

“I have declared it entrepreneur day, it’s going to be a holiday,” Hayes said. “It will showcase their businesses. It is a day where all the businesses can come together, we can network together and learn from each other.”

Hayes wants everyone to come out and support the businesses and take a picture in front of the Wall Street mural.

Blair Durham, the president of Black BRAND, the Black Hampton Roads chamber of commerce, expects business owners to continue to create unique ways to draw in consumers this holiday season. 

“Business owners are thinking more creatively around what it is that they can teach, not just what they can sell,” Durham said.

Durham hosts a podcast also inspired by the Greenwood District called the Black Wall Street Today. She says this is part of a push to close the wealth gap between minorities and other races.

During last holiday season, there was a national push to buy from Black-owned businesses.

“Hashtag buy black is a thing, I think that what has giving the buy black movement its legs have defiantly been social media.”

She expects that trend to continue this Christmas. To find local black owned businesses, the Black Brand app has a full list.

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