A Stolen BBQ Won’t Damper The Spirit Of A North Portland Food Cart Owner

In the heart of the Historic Mississippi Business District stands Southern Kitchen Food Cart, a cherished establishment at The Gateway to Mississippi Food Court. As one of the few remaining Black-owned businesses on Mississippi Ave, Southern Kitchen has not only served delicious meals but has also been a pillar of support for the community.

However, tragedy struck early on Saturday morning, April 6th, when a vital piece of equipment for the business, its custom BBQ smoker, was stolen. The theft left Maurice Fain, the owner of Southern Kitchen, devastated. “I’m still closed. And I haven’t been on the go for me thing,” Fain lamented during an interview.

Despite the setback, Maurice remains determined to reopen his business and continue serving the community. “My goal was to check it on Monday. But I just haven’t really been on there checking in,” he explained. “But right now, I’m just still hoping or getting my grill. If not, I’m looking to get one remade.”

Fain’s spirits were lifted when he discovered the overwhelming support from the community. A GoFundMe page was set up with a goal of $15,500, which was quickly surpassed, raising a total of $15,531 from 326 donations. “I really didn’t think that I was gonna reach anything,” Fain expressed, visibly moved by the outpouring of support.

Photo: Maurice Fain

In addition to running Southern Kitchen, Maurice is deeply involved in community work through his nonprofit organization, Next G. The organization focuses on mentorship, education, and community outreach, aiming to empower young people and foster a sense of family and community. “I just want to cook food for that very same for a split second for people can relieve the situation,” Fain said.

Despite the challenges he has faced, Maurice remains optimistic about the future. “After hearing what you said today, it’s just another sign from God just telling me that he got me in to move forward,” he remarked.

As Maurice prepares to reopen Southern Kitchen, he plans to hold a thank-you party for all those who supported him during this difficult time. “I plan on doing a thank you party. For all the people who help who all donate,” he said. “We’re gonna have live music and food and we just gotta have a good block party in the middle of the street.”

While the perpetrators of the theft remain at large, Maurice says he holds no ill will towards them. “I don’t wish anything on them. I just want my grill back,” he stated. “And if I can’t get it back, I’m just gonna move forward.”

As Maurice looks ahead to the future, he is grateful for the support of the community and remains committed to serving them through his food and his passion for community upliftment.  You can hear our interview with Maurice Fain here: