HUEYTOWN, Ala. (WBRC) - The Coronavirus pandemic has been tough on small businesses and extremely hard on black owned businesses.
However, even though it was a time of uncertainty, a young, local entrepreneur forged ahead with his dream of opening a restaurant unlike anything else in the area.
The menu at Bell Peppers restaurant in Hueytown is stocked full of guilty pleasures: pizza, waffles, burgers, and chips, to name a few.
"Everything we have here you may find at a traditional fast food place," owner Anthony Clemons said.
But what’s not on the menu, an overload of unhealthy carbohydrates.
“The goal is to eat healthier but to eat good,” Clemons smiled.
The idea came after the 33-year-old was diagnosed with diabetes in 2014. His doctors put Clemons on a strict low carb diet but he didn’t like the way the food tasted.
Clemons said he started following low carb recipes online and tried to make them his own but, "I didn't like any of them. They all tasted like eggs."
After trial and several errors he dropped the idea, but in 2019 Clemons said he gave the idea another try.
“I actually made my first pizza crust,” Clemons exclaimed.
The pizza was a hit and like the perfect recipe, the concept of a low carb, fast food, restaurant came together.
With a growing menu, Clemons set out to find a location for his new restaurant, but it was not a simple process, he said.
"If 2020 and I were in a boxing match, I would've been knocked out first round," Clemons said. "I'm opening a restaurant and restaurants are closing, businesses are closing."
Since February, hundreds of thousands of black-owned businesses have closed, according to a new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. That's a drop of 41% compared to 17% of white-owned businesses.
Clemons said he was turned down by multiple locations in the metro area before finding the perfect spot in Hueytown in the River Square Plaza.
Faced with setbacks, stereotypes, and economic uncertainty exacerbated by the pandemic the idea of giving up was never an option because for Clemons, a desire to educate and feed the community healthy, great tasting food is worth the risk.
"Everywhere I go, people ask when is Bell Peppers opening? I want to get a pizza. I want a waffle. Hearing things like that keeps your mind on the right track. It keeps you focused,” he said.
A grand opening is scheduled for July 11th at noon.
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