Restaurateur Vonda McPherson Brings Healthy Food to an Urban Community

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Vonda McPhersonDetermined to be more than just another greasy spoon in the
neighborhood, restaurateur Vonda McPherson, advocates health
and wellness through healthy eating at her place?Vonda’s Kitchen. This
may be why her popular soul food eatery in Newark, New Jersey is making its mark and
holding its own in tough and tenuous economic times.

McPherson, a former sales representative for a medical supply company, started the business in March 2012. Her catchphrase to customers is? ?healthy soul food.?? The mantra stuck and so has Vonda?s Kitchen. ?There was so much bad eating in this neighborhood that you couldn’t even get a salad,? McPherson said in a recent interview with TNJ.com. ?We brought healthy food into an urban community.?

While items such as ?vegetable soul rolls,? and ?wheat sauteed tilapia salad,? may not be common mainstays on the menu of most soul food eateries across the country, they are at Vonda’s Kitchen. McPherson proudly and boldly promotes the unusual delicacies to patrons. She adds, ?It’s working; I’m winning and folks are buying and eating them,? she said.

For McPherson, one of her biggest coups to date occurred In February, when she landed a two-day, five-figure contract to provide catering and tailgating services for the 2014 Super Bowl. Her specialty entrees at the event included, a Mini Italian Hotdog and hundreds of mini funnel cake lollipops.

As it turns out, McPherson was one of only a handful of tri-state African American area vendors to land a coveted contract with the NFL/Met Life stadium?host site of the event. While the Seattle Seahawks clobbered the Denver Broncos in what many deemed as a lackluster game, McPherson was busy cooking, hosting and networking her services to some of the nearly 100,000 onsite attendees of the mega sporting event. The restaurant also catered several private parties before, during and after the big game. Despite the short term duration of the contract,? McPherson was able to showcase her thriving little bistro’s can-do attitude to an international audience. The high profile and successful delivery of services at the Super Bowl paid off for McPherson.

?We were invited to participate in several trade shows before and after the Super Bowl and were able to network with key people at various businesses and organizations,? she said. {As a vendor at the 2014 Super Bowl} ?I was able to highlight my talent as a minority business woman at a major sporting event and market my services to secure future business.?

Lastly, McPherson said it may still be too early to tell if Super Bowl 2014 was, indeed, a cash cow for the miniscule number of minority and women owned businesses (M/WBE’s) that managed to nab contracts with the NFL. But the experience was invaluable.

Her advice to other M/WBE’s hoping to snag a big contract is simple. ?When they call you, be ready to perform and make sure you are who you say you are and be ready to deliver,? she concluded.??????????
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