Philly-born chef and artist Omar Tate is moving forward with plans to bring West Philadelphia a multi-faceted community center anchored around food and feeding the neighborhood.
The Russet and Fork alum just launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $250,000 to open a brick-and-mortar home for Honeysuckle Community Center. The project builds upon the wildly successful Honeysuckle pop-up dinner series he recently brought to New York, dedicated to exploring Black heritage and culture through poetry, cuisine, and music.
“It is rooted in the soils of my foundations here in America, and it uses that foundation to build upon the nuances of our history and our present,” he wrote in an Eater Voices narrative in January.
He’s eyeing the Mantua section of West Philadelphia for Honeysuckle’s permanent home, scheduled to open in early 2022. The majority of funds will go towards acquiring the site, with the rest reserved for staff, repairs, equipment, and beautification of the property.
After an eight-year stint in NYC, he returned to Philly during the pandemic and brought the critically acclaimed pop-up with him, operating it out of South Philly Barbacoa. Among the highlights across his biweekly takeout menus: a pit-smoked lamb rubbed in palm oil and a West African-inspired chili paste and whole perch stuffed with callaloo, notes the Philly Inquirer.
“After three years of focus and determination I am finally confident and in a position to take on my project Honeysuckle as a full on space back home in Philly,” he wrote in an email to Eater this week. The campaign launched on Saturday, July 25, and has raised nearly $20,000 to date.
The multi-use community center will feature a grocery component, meat market, cafe, library, and supper club, integrating history, the arts, education, agriculture, commerce, and food to pursue its all-encompassing mission: reinvent food spaces to “serve more than good food,” he says.
Its cafe, for instance, could act as the site for everything from casual or community events to high-end dinners, he told Philly Mag in May.