Updated: May 18
One of the things Antinette Watson remembers most about her grandfather is that, even when Mr. Wesley decided to retire from a career in the automotive industry, he was rarely still for very long.
Besides the obvious perk of continuing to earn a bit of income in his twilight years, it gave her grandfather a sense of pride to have somewhere to go and something to do each day. Antinette is hard-pressed to remember and name all of the odd jobs he held, but the one that directly impacted her was his garage converted into a water ice store. Named Cheryl’s Water Ice, after her mom.
The Stand, as it was affectionately known to the family and its customers, became not only a source of income for her grandfather, but was mandatory on-the-job training in retail, customer service, food service and marketing for Antinette’s family and other neighborhood children.
Not everyone who was hired made the cut, of course. Warm weather and the lure of playing in
the sunshine became too enticing for some young people to ignore, even when they earned a
decent day’s wage for their labor. But for Antinette’s mother Cheryl and Antinette herself, The
Stand was the inevitable afterschool and summer job for several years running.
When she began considering the trajectory of her professional life, Antinette felt the pull of social work most of all. She related closely to her teen clients, filled with so much anxiety and uncertainty about the future, and lashing out in unproductive ways. It soon became apparent that in addition to their personal healing and enlightenment, Antinette’s clients would also benefit from two basic tools: money in their pockets and something to do.
Looks like her grandfather had been on to something.
Antinette reminisced, "Cheryls Water Ice introduced me to Black Entrepreneurship...both as the provider and a consumer!"
And with that, The Stand was revived for a new generation.
Antinette knew that she couldn’t have a successful teen cohort of helpers without significant mentorship and training. For that, she draws on her experience as a social worker to design an orientation that leans heavily on aspects of providing good service, with a small dose of therapy. Some youth face significant challenges at home, and haven’t learned necessary skills in anger management, patience, and respectful tone of speech that are critical when interfacing with customers. They get that with Antinette, along with a work ethic that can open even more doors for them in the future, regardless of where they choose to apply it.
The Stand no longer offers water ice. Under Antinette’s direction, they now boast of having the best grilled hot dogs in the city, and their eager customers would likely agree. With the opening of Wilmington Kitchen Collective, Antinette looks forward to having all the prep space she needs to prepare more quantities of food and expand her menu offerings even further. With her new trailer, she has plans for several new items, including breakfast. She’ll be able to keep her teens busy with their hands-on assistance, and move her base of food operations out of her own kitchen at home.
In addition to the physical space, Antinette welcomes the opportunity to strengthen her relationship with the other food entrepreneurs in her professional cohort. She feels that they can benefit from bouncing ideas off of one another and create the kind of forward-thinking alliances that will allow everyone to flourish and improve conditions in Wilmington for all.
Solid service, happy customers. A growing menu. And income generation, right in the heart of the ‘hood.
Antinette thinks her grandfather would be very proud of what she’s doing...passing down the lessons, opportunities, and love that were passed down to her.
Being busy is a very good thing.
For more information on the Kitchen Collective’s mission, partner organizations, and other resources, visit them online at www.wilmingtonkitchencollective.com