SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY—Offering good food, owner of Southern Hospitality Troy Johnson aims to add variety to the Monroeville Mall Food Court. (Photos by Diane Daniels)
It is not uncommon to find a barbershop, beauty parlor, restaurant, shoe store, a jeans store, a learning center or even a travel agency located within a local mall. What is unusual is that the named establishments are operating in the Monroeville Mall and are African-American owned. Success Barber Shop, Dizire Hair Boutique, Southern Hospitality, Shoe Tweak, Curvy B Jeans, Supporting Hands Learning Center and Angels with Wings Travel Agency are a part of the 180 plus stores located in the 44 year old mall.
Displaced from the Market Square area of downtown Pittsburgh because of renewal, Chuck Fowlks has been operating Success Barber Shop in the Mall since 2008. Located on the upper level of the Mall near JC Penny’s; Fowlks says his business is good. With the long time goal to own several shops he said he always wanted to own a shop in the Mall.
“I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur, to be my own boss,” he said. “Being in the mall provides the freedom, but also provides structure.” Open seven days a week he also employees four other barbers.
Fowlks, an East Hills native attended the old Pittsburgh Beauty Academy, Penn State Greater Allegheny and Community College of Allegheny County.
A PASSION FOR SHOES—At 26, Theresa Hancock is following her dream of operating a shoe store, Shoe Tweak.
With the desire to offer something more than pizza and sandwiches, Troy Johnson says Southern Hospitality Restaurant provides a diverse type of cuisine in a mall atmosphere. Also locating to the Mall from Downtown, Johnson said he was looking for a site that provided cultural diversity. Located in the Food Court in the lower level Southern Hospitality serves a variety of southern style foods, fried chicken and fish, baked macaroni and cheese, collard greens, green beans, sweet potatoes and potato salad to name a few. He also operates a catering business focusing on special events and festivals.
In the banking industry for 13 years, Johnson said he always strived for financial freedom. With a passion to make people feel good he figured the food business provided access to people. “Knowing the ends and outs of the banking business, I also have a dream to own a financial business,” he said. “I like sales and have a marketing education.”
The former owner of several what he calls Bath and Body Works type businesses on Wood Street, Johnson, a New Castle native said he has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Working around people with similar philosophes since he was a teenager he said he was taught how to manage money so his businesses are loan free and has been able to provide employment for family.
TRAVEL ANYONE—Sheila Greene, president and CEO of Angels with Wings Travel Agency, strives to take care of your traveling needs.
Like a lot of women, Theresa Hancock has a passion for shoes. She agrees with the saying of Marilyn Monroe “give a girl the right shoe and she can conquer the world.” Her way of conquering the world and providing women the right shoes is by selling them from Shoe Tweak, her shop located in the lower level of the Mall.