We had the good fortune of connecting with Rashe Malcolm and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rashe, how do you think about risk?
Rashe’s Cuisine began as a catering business in 1993 as a teenager. Rashe expanding to a brick-and-mortar business on Tallassee Road in 2013. In 2017, a fire, gas leak, flood and the eventual sale of the location forced Rashe to move to look for a new location. Long before “pivot” was a trendy term, Rashe recovered from by pivoting her efforts to grow the catering segment of the business. Never one to let grass grow under her feet, once Rashe’s Cuisine catering was in high demand, Rashe began looking for new ways to grow the business and to help other entrepreneurs. Then 2020 happened. Discouraged but not defeated, in 2020, Rashe has opened a restaurant, paid off early the loan used to purchase the food truck, provided fifty Farm to Neighborhood bags of fresh fruits and vegetables each week to low-income Athenians, received approval to accept EBT, and planned the third CKA Winter market. And in her spare time, Rashe partnered with East Athens Development Corporation, Action, Inc., Oglethorpe County School System, private donors, and many others to ensure those hit hardest by the pandemic had nutritious meals. With that being said, don’t be afraid of risks. Embrace the unknown because it can only help you and your organization grow and adapt.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The mission of Rashe’s Cuisine is to source and serve food to nourish the body and soul. This means improving long-term health outcomes and reducing the risk of diet-related chronic illnesses in low-income communities through health-related advocacy. Rashe has created partnerships with the Athens Housing Authority, the East Athens Development Authority, Envision Athens, Vegan Outreach, the Athens Downtown Development Authority, WellCare Georgia, and many others to prepare and distribute fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy meals to limited-income adults, families, and seniors living in Athens-Clarke County communities. Rashe is currently the Chairman of the Board for Athens-Clarke County Industrial Authority.
As her own business grew, Rashe wanted to encourage and assist the growth of other small businesses in the Athens creative culinary community. She formed a non-profit, The Culinary Kitchen of Athens (CKA), to support culinary entrepreneurs. The CKA is in the third year of its Winter Market, where small business owners have an opportunity to sell products and produce to the public. Rashe’s goal is to establish affordable kitchen incubator space for emerging culinary businesses and other creatives (primarily minority, low income, female) who are required to utilize a USDA-certified commercial kitchen to produce their goods for retail sale. In addition to creating income for entrepreneurs and their families, the commercial kitchen can provide a location to process locally grown food.
In 2019, Rashe formed a second non-profit, Farm to Neighborhood, which seeks to create a community in which all have access to delicious, nutritious, and affordable food choices. Its mission is to provide fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as prepackaged healthy and affordable meals, for limited income adults, families, and seniors living in Athens-Clarke County communities. During this past year, Rashe was able to connect with local farmers to fill “Bags of Delish” with fresh fruits and vegetables to distribute to low-income families each week.
This past year has been especially difficult for the hospitality industry, with most businesses happy to maintain anything close to a status quo. When the COVID-19 pandemic basically shut down catering in early 2020, Rashe had purchased a food truck and was preparing to open a new brick-and-mortar location. Rather than putting those plans on hold, she doubled down. Despite the obstacles that 2020 brought, Rashe overcame every hurdle that she encountered and opened Rashe’s Cuisine at Triangle Plaza in East Athens. She partnered with local nonprofit organizations that received CARES Act funding and served many thousands of meals to children, families, and seniors who were hardest hit by the economic fallout. The third Winter Market opened in January at The Bottleworks, and Rashe is looking to establish a physical location for the CKA shared commercial kitchen incubator space within the next year.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well, I try really hard not to cook if I don’t have to when family and friends visit. I’m a pretty simple living person so I usually take my visitors on our Loop 10 to show them that Athens is one big circle and you could get anywhere from off the Loop.
Athens is so varied in our culture that many don’t recognize because they focus on our football and music scene, but you can get Jamaican, Ethiopian, Dominican, Italian, Southern, Mexican, Peruvian, some of the best BBQ in the South, fine dining, fast food, and so many local mom and pop shops that are all truly unique. We pride ourselves on not being a cookie cutter community.
When you visit Athens you absolutely have to visit the Tree that owns itself. The artistry in Athens is amazing and to appreciate you have to see the East Side, West Side, and Downtown murals that many businesses are adding to their buildings to really show their love and appreciation for the community.
Then to help everyone wind down before they go home we have to visit the many trails and parks we have here in Athens talk about a stress reliever. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to recognize Broderick Flanigan for recommending me to Shoutout Magazine. My Shoutout List could take up the entire article. My family and my community truly hold me down and keep me lifted from words of encouragement, patronizing all of my business efforts, referrals, prayers, and even helping me keep up my crazy schedule.
Other: Social media handles to her non-profits: Culinary Kitchen of Athens: https://www.instagram.com/theckofathens/?hl=en Farm to Neighborhood: https://www.instagram.com/farm2neighborhood/?hl=en