McKinley Park

South Side Entrepreneur Fights Through Pandemic, Feeds Chicagoans in Need

In an inconspicuous space within a 1900s era McKinley Park building, the kitchen is back open.

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Nicole Jordan-Reed’s story starts on Chicago’s Far South Side, where family recipes run in her DNA.

“I loved to cook. I loved to eat,” Reed said.

But Reed’s education would lead her to a degree in economics from the University of Chicago followed by a successful 20-year career in corporate America.

By 2016, she was looking for something new.

Her DNA called her back.

“I had gotten to the point of not being satisfied,” Reed said. “It just didn’t speak to me anymore. I was like, 'It’s time' and I jumped!”

Nicole Jordan’s Catering Company was launched just a few years before the coronavirus pandemic. As she was still building her business, nearly 90% of her business was wiped out.

Reed was denied a PPP loan, twice.

But in a full-circle moment, her Alma mater would become her first major contract since March, and it’s a special one.

Her catering company is making 1,000 meals per week for underprivileged communities in Chicago, specifically near where she grew up.

“To be able to do that on a large scale like this is a fulfillment of our mission,” Reed said.

Reed is now able to bring back some of her employees and expand her business into offering meal service.

She hopes her story of perseverance resonates in her community, especially for other Black entrepreneurs.

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