Boston's Seaport neighborhood has developed rapidly into a glittering area full of high-end housing, retail and entertainment. But business owners of color have struggled to gain a foothold in the Seaport, a trend that the city is hoping to change.
Nia Grace is one Black business owner making waves in the Seaport as the neighborhood works to diversify.
Her newly opened restaurant Grace by Nia has taken off to a strong start, offering live music, a speakeasy lounge and tasteful menu that includes Creole seafood gumbo, Cajun jambalaya and molasses-braised oxtails with grits.
On Basic Black, Callie Crossley joined Grace on location at the restaurant. Grace described the establishment as a supper club meant for people to get dressed up and spend several hours enjoying food, drinks, music and dancing.
"We wanted to spark a renaissance for that moment," said Grace, who is also a board member of Meet Boston.
Opening Grace by Nia took careful consideration. Grace said she was offered a restaurant space in another high-traffic location, but turned it down because it lacked diversity, a patient move that worked out well in the end.
Grace and Crossley were also joined by Richard Taylor, managing director of Nubian Square Development LLC and chairman of the Taylor Smith Group, and Corean Reynolds, director of nightlife economy for the city of Boston.
The guests said developing a successful Black-owned business in the Seaport takes talent, experience and capital.
"The rent is not cheap. The whole transaction cost is not cheap," Taylor noted. He described Grace by Nia as a place with "financial strength and talent" during a time when Boston is entering a new chapter.
"This is so symbolic of new Boston ... this is an inflection point of powerful transformation of what this city has come to," he said.
Grace said she's received "nothing but love" from the public and neighboring businesses since she opened. Both Grace and Taylor said finding the right partners is the key to opening a thriving business.
Businesses like Grace by Nia can help bring the flavor of Boston to the Seaport, Reynolds said. "We want the Seaport to be reflective of all of our other 22 neighborhoods."
Though there is still much work to be done, Reynolds, Taylor and Grace said there has been significant progress toward attaining that goal.
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