Restaurant offers St. Joseph a taste of New Orleans
Mateo Mackbee is the proud owner of the Creole restaurant Krewe in St. Joseph, MN, which is known for its grandfather gumbo, shrimp jambalaya, and red beans and rice.
Mackbee spoke to the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder about the challenges of being in Greater Minnesota. “I would sum it up as, no one has ever seen a Black person own a business in St. Joseph, and so being the first one and having that kind of spotlight shone on you, and you know, there’s extra pressure and making sure that you’re doing everything right.
“You know there’s a DNA in the soil, there’s a history of some of these communities, a false sense of ownership that gets smashed when folks that look like me with brown skin come in, and we become successful.”
He added, “[They’re] worried, you know. It’s important you know the preconceived notions that they may have in their head when they walk in the door. But we’d like to shatter them by the time they leave.”
Although he’s faced challenges in greater Minnesota, Mackbee has also found great success. He said, “We ended up meeting and networking with some really awesome folks that were very instrumental in helping us kind of navigate that whole SBA loan process and any kind of grant money through foundations or things that would be out here in greater Minnesota.”
After finding help with their business plan and finding resources, the greatest question was still up in the air: Would St. Joseph, a small college town in greater Minnesota, even want Creole cuisine?
Quickly, Mackbee found that not only was there an interest, but there was also an abundance of support from the community. “So, you know…introducing Creole Cajun food to a rural West Central Minnesota community, it was a bit of a stretch. But we believed in our recipes and believed in the tradition and the way that we wanted to treat our employees and things like that would reverberate into the community, and it definitely has,” Mackbee said.
Asked about what he would tell Black folk who might want to move out to Greater Minnesota, Mackbee said, “First thing I would say is, there are tons of opportunities. The second thing I would say is, you’re going to need to be ready, you know, both mentally, spiritually and physically. Be ready.”
Mackbee added, “Because what you imagined is here…is here. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful. We are proven examples of that. If you can be strong and stand on your belief in what it is that you’re doing, there are tons of opportunities.”
Krewe is located at 24 College Ave. N., St. Joseph, Minnesota 56374. For more info visit www.krewemn.com/team or call 320-557-0083.
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Angela Rose Myers is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.