Family Ty Owners Celebrate Black History at Community Food Event

Pensacola restaurant owners Ty and Ursula Jones of The “good dishes” of the Ty family decided to create a sustainable local event last year that would celebrate black history Month in Pensacola. After a successful first outing, black-owned food vendor event Street Chefs Unite will return this Saturday.

Ursula Jones said the second annual event is meant to help celebrate black history on an annual basis that can continue in Pensacola for generations to come. She said attendees will be able to look around and see “black history in motion” of current business owners, while eating lots of great food. She also hopes the event will help aspiring black business owners get started.

“We want the event to really portray two successful black Pensacola owners who started from scratch, with nothing,” Ursula Jones said. “When it comes to black history, so much of who we are is based on the prayers, dreams, and visions of our ancestors. To be able to see these prayers come to fruition in current business owners is truly a blessing.

Street Chefs Unite event organizers Chris Graye of Graye's Granite Inc. and Ty Jones of Family Ty's

The event is scheduled to last from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 3141 Potter St. in Ferry Pass. In addition to food prepared by Family Ty’s, there will be a variety of other vendors including What the Cluck Chicken Truck, GC Deli, Who Dat Po’Boys, East Kings Corner Café, Pika Grill, Sweet Dreaya’s and Trap Snacks .

The family event will also feature plenty of activities like cornhole and life-size lawn games. There will be tables and chairs set up, hand washing stations and portable toilets. As for entertainment, there will be live music from DJ Hale and DJ Tiger and a guest speaker on black history.

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Ty Jones said the roster of vendors for the event was driven by food trucks, but truckless vendors will set up booths.

“It was initially something I came up with,” Ty Jones said of the idea for the event. “I just wanted to incorporate all the black businesses here in Pensacola. We did this last year and it was a great success. It’s just kind of a celebration of not just black people, but you know, everyone. Family, friends, everyone must come and support this event.

He told fellow black business owner and event co-founder Chris Graye, owner of Graye’s Granite Inc., is himself “a great gourmand”. Graye wanted to support the event in his own way, donating the unused acres of land next to his business to accommodate vendors.

Graye said he believes collaboration is important between business owners that he would like to see grow more in Pensacola.

Lines are forming at Family Ty's

“We put all our resources together, all our customers together. We all advertise together under one roof, under one umbrella,” Graye said.

The event not only provides a spotlight and a platform for black business owners, but is also a window to network and exchange business advice, said Ursula Jones. Especially for those just starting out.

The Joneses are well seasoned in the restaurant industry, now operating a restaurant on West Nine Mile and two different food trucks. It wasn’t easy, as they started by opening their part-time soul food-style food truck on U.S. Highway 29 in 2009. After running the business during the day, Ty Jones kept still her full-time job at night. until the company was well enough known to pursue the adventure full time.

“We did a lot of barbecues, ribs and chicken wings, all the other varieties of food,” Ty Jones said. “We just built the brand and built the business from there.”

Ursula Jones said events like the Street Chefs Unite allow business owners to support each other and collaborate.

“My husband was getting so many questions, ‘How did you get started, man, I want to do this,'” Ursula Jones recalled. “He really became like a (tutor) in terms of how to progress in this area. I think it’s so much more of a feeling than, ‘That’s how we did it. Because we did it, you can do it too.

Joseph K. Bennett