BY LEAH SHAW
Norman Brown believes in second chances, in stellar customer service and in his employees.
Four years ago, Brown and a family member had a vision to create a business that could be for the black community, by the black community.
Today, he and his wife Kim Brown churn out breakfast and lunch southern classics like sausage, eggs and grits. And the house specials that includes, shrimp and grits and chicken and waffles. Every Friday, they serve pounds of Cajun fish fry.
The Arnett Café has not only garnered success in real life, but on the internet as well.
Brown is proud of the businesses 4.5 Yelp rating, as well as the café’s approx. 2,000 Facebook’s likes. Happy mouths turn into great reviews, and word of mouth. The Arnett Café feeds new customers daily.
“When people come in, they quickly find out its worth the share,” Brown said.
The reviews mean a lot to him. He believes in second chances.
“We try to give people a warm and home feeling,” he said. “If it’s not the food for you, we’ll show you good customer service, so you’ll give us a second chance
Second chances extend to the community as well. His corporate background helps him understand that putting money into the local community is mutually beneficial. Not only does it equate to a shorter commute for employees, but also foster Brown’s desires to help those in need.
He has relationships with the café’s neighbors and along with his wife, serve on the deacon board at Aenon Missionary Baptist Church. The food strengthens their ties to the community.
“This gives me the opportunity to help someone who needs a job,” he said. “There’s a lot of us, who don’t get second chances.”
Brown was raised on Roselyn St., just four blocks from where The Arnett Café stands, and as an adult, left Rochester for about 20 years.
He lived in New York City and in 2003, returned to Rochester open minded and ready for a new journey. Brown and his family have always loved food. So, when the opportunity arose in 2013, to craft meals that taste like home, Norman and Kim, along with a cousin and his wife, pulled up the blinds at 332 Arnett Blvd. for the first time, serving breakfast. Two years later, his cousin and wife left to pursue another venture, while Norman stayed. Soon, they started serving lunch
Although, he has a corporate background, he’s the timeless small business owner: he does everything, with the help of Kim who assists on weekends.
On any given day, Brown can be found prepping food in the kitchen, to answering the phone and seating customers. He makes it a point to be visible—to his staff and to customers. Out of the customers, who have repeat-visited The Arnett Cafe at least 2 to 3 times, he knows 75 percent of them, he says.
One change in particular, is coming to the brightly lit corner café with its paintings and smooth jazz sounds: new menu items. Brown plans on changing the menu and possibly increasing the number of menu items in the near future. But, he doesn’t plan on shifting community involvement any time soon. “People come in for peace of mind and our job is to make that person comfortable,” he said. “Food can ease a lot of things.”