Meet Fauzia’s Heavenly Delights. For nearly 30 years, Fauzia Abdur-Rahman and her family have been serving halal “Jamaican fusion” food from a food cart outside the courthouse in the Bronx. She joined the Hot Bread Kitchen Incubator in 2019 to launch a retail jar of her famous jerk sauce. But business at Fauzia’s famous food truck came to a screeching halt in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the family out of work. The family has since pivoted to focus on selling their jerk sauce online. As part of our Voices From The Field series, we talked with Fauzia’s daughter, Fauzia Aminah Rasheed, about how her family and the business is doing.
How does it feel to be a small business owner during this time?
To me, being a small business owner has always been defined by the amount of consistent effort put in to see significant results. Whether it is the daily grind of getting up every morning to work the cart or coming home in the evenings to focus on paperwork and our e-commerce business, the role of a small business owner is incredibly non-stop but incredibly rewarding.
So when COVID-19 made its appearance and decided to stay for a while, the concept of not being able to work during what is considered our busiest season of the year was a foreign one to say the least.
What business have you lost due to covid-19?
We have no income coming in, and no guarantee that business will be anywhere near what it was before the pandemic happened. The summer is our busiest season—with vending on Governor’s Island and summer festivals cancelled, we will lose all our income.
How is your family doing?
Things have been one day at a time, truly. I have two brothers and our focus is just making sure our mom and dad are good—they’re 62 and 72. They have no business going outside right now.
We have come to the conclusion that I will have to go ahead and apply for a job and have something coming in for the family. It’s been a time of me and my siblings just stepping up to make sure my parents don’t risk it.
What grants and loans have you applied to? What has that process been like?
It’s been a disappointing experience. When the lockdown first began, applying for loans and grants was a full-time job in itself. We applied for close to 10 different grant programs, but received none. Efforts have been made by both local and state government, but it’s just a drop in the pond for all the small businesses like us. All around, we’re struggling as a community.
You just launched your retail product at the start of March. How is it going?
One of the blessings that has come out of this entire situation is that it has allowed us to work on the retail e-commerce side of our business. Thankfully we were able to get our jerk sauce on our website just in time to launch simultaneously with the start of the lockdown, so we have been able to pour all of our time and effort into it. It’s been a learning curve, but being able to still connect with our customers and make new customers during this time has been such a wonderful feeling.
Through Feed the Recovery, Hot Bread Kitchen is helping small food businesses build a bridge to economic stability. Learn more here.