NORRISTOWN – A mother-daughter duo received a $100,000 grant earlier this week to help develop a new restaurant in downtown Norristown.
“I’m super excited. There are a lot of opportunities on Main Street,” said Ricole Morgan, of Simply Divine Catering.
Morgan addressed Norristown City Council members during a business session Tuesday to share her plans for the space, located at 14 W. Main St.
Morgan and her mother, Juanita Cody, both of Conshohocken, were being considered for the six-figure grant funded through the Main Street Economic Development and Job Creation and Retention program.
Morgan shared how their business arrangement has two parts: Morgan’s business acumen and Cody’s culinary expertise spanning three decades.
Together, Morgan highlighted how this business is showing its strengths as it aims to bring “home-cooked meals” to Norristown.
“Our vision is to serve our customers happiness through delicious, quality cuisine and an extraordinary dining experience, while working for the greater good of our employees, the community and the environment,” said said Morgan in his presentation.
The space, which city officials say was the former Sound of Music record store, was purchased by Cody and Morgan in July 2021.
Ultimately, Morgan said the two-level space will feature “modern decor,” accommodating 52 seats, counter space and limited patio seating.
Cody and Morgan have set their hours of operation from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, as they hope to attract the area’s “lunch rush.” Morgan added that the menu will include fresh food, as well as vegan and vegetarian options.
“It’s going to be made with love, care and from scratch,” Morgan said.
Morgan also touted the company’s plans to incorporate weekly promotions and online ordering capabilities.
“There is a need for good food at affordable prices,” she said.
Morgan told council members how the “centrally located” building could provide walking opportunities from nearby offices such as the Montgomery County Courthouse, Norristown Transportation Center, Department of Norristown Police, Montgomery-Norristown County Public Library, and other administrative offices.
In addition, the catering side would offer “onsite and offsite catering services,” as well as “private event space” and “prepared holiday meals and individual packed lunches for corporate events,” it said. Morgan in his presentation.
Also, building a relationship with the Norristown community was very important to Morgan and Cody. Morgan said forming that bond would include local hiring practices.
Their business plan included the possibility of staffing 12 positions, including seven food service employees, according to city officials.
As of December 31, 2021, they had invested $174,340, according to city officials. The $100,000 grant fund would cover the cost of several construction projects, including replacing the ceiling, drywall, floor and roof, renovating the kitchen ceiling, bathroom and door . Other spending initiatives included HVAC, plumbing and water heater upgrades.
Morgan said there is a planned opening date for summer 2022. While the dine-in restaurant concept is still in its infancy, Morgan said she and Cody would like to “start in Norristown”, with the potential to expand, launching additional locations in Montgomery County.
In the end, city officials approved the grant award by a 6-0 vote. Norristown City Council Vice President Heather Lewis was absent from Tuesday’s session.
“The yeses have it. Congratulations. Good luck,” Norristown City Council President Thomas Lepera said.