• 45°

New café serves food, financial knowledge

A new establishment in the heart of downtown Suffolk looks to fill stomachs with good food and coffee as well as to fill heads and hearts with financial knowledge and passion.

Wall Street Café, located at 118 W. Washington St., is owned by two local entrepreneurs who are passionate about spreading knowledge on finances, investing and wealth-building.

Domenick Epps and Danita Hayes knew from the start that their vision would become a reality, even as many obstacles were thrown in their path.

“The world said, ‘You can’t open up a business in the middle of COVID-19,’ but God said different,” Hayes said.

Agreed Epps: “Because it was God’s will, not ours, it had no choice but to succeed,” he said.

Epps saw the vision for the business late last year and shared it with Hayes, as the two were already business partners on other ventures. They began building their business from the ground up, including securing the location, planning the menu and thinking about what they wanted the educational part of their business to look like.

The café is named after the “Black Wall Street” areas of Black-owned businesses that flourished in many American cities in the first half of the 20th century. Two of the most notable ones were in Tulsa, Okla., and Durham, N.C., both referenced by Epps.

Although the Tulsa race massacre in May-June 1921, in which hundreds of Black residents were killed, thousands more injured and many Black-owned businesses destroyed, often is referenced in regards to Tulsa’s Black Wall Street, Epps said more people need to talk about the success of that district, both before the massacre and after it was rebuilt.

“People don’t talk about the success of Black Wall Street,” he said.

A mural in Wall Street Café imparts some of this history to visitors and also recognizes notable entrepreneurs both local and nationwide.

The atmosphere at Wall Street Café lends itself to business deals and political discussions, which are encouraged, Epps said. Visitors can place trades on the stock market and can attend numerous planned events to help people become more financially savvy.

Part of the goal is not only for Epps and Hayes to have something to pass down to their own families but also to help build up their community.

“We definitely want to build a legacy for our children and for generations to connect,” Hayes said. “A lot of the people in our community just don’t have the knowledge.”

With all that, there is also great food and coffee at Wall Street Café. Those who may not have the time for a deep political discussion, a business deal or learning about economics can still drop in for eats and drinks.

The menu includes items like sandwiches and wraps, with options including club, turkey, BLT, chicken and hummus veggie. Breakfast sandwiches are also available, as are pastries and sides including “Queen’s Banana Pudding,” available Friday and Saturday thanks to the talents of Epps’ wife, LaKita. Hayes’ husband, Chris Hayes, has provided invaluable support on the eatery side of things, as a former restaurant manager at an Olive Garden and on the Spirit of Norfolk dinner cruise.

Beverage options include frappuccino, espresso, latte, hot tea and hot chocolate. Customers order a “Dow” for a medium or “S&P” for a large.

Customers who come in dressed in business attire, or who are military, can get 10% off their order.

Epps and Hayes are eager to see where they can take their business from here.

“I believe this is just the beginning,” Hayes said.