Since 1942, the United States has observed February as Black History Month. Here at CBSNewYork, we’re celebrating it by recognizing accomplished black New Yorkers. Below, Larry Mullins reflects on his experience with Cheryl Smith.

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Let me begin by saying that we almost didn’t get this interview done.

That’s because we were distracted by the food, the aroma’s coming from the kitchen, the cozy atmosphere and the hospitality which was off the chain! Cheryl Smith opened her own little restaurant/café in Prospect Park a few years ago, and to say that “Cheryl’s Global Soul Food” is one of the best kept secrets in Brooklyn is an understatement. Plus it won’t be a secret much longer, since she won last year’s Small Business of the Year award. And never mind the food, Cheryl is a piece of art herself; having gone through all kinds of “drama” to get to where she is, only to come back to the neighborhood to become just the opposite: a “no-drama”, no pretense person, with a restaurant and personnel to match. It was interesting to hear her talk about how she was so excited about cooking and entertaining (something she learned from her parents back in the day)…but how after all the preparation and self-education and experimentation in the kitchen, she knew “diddly” about how to run a business, much less start one.

Cheryl Smith talks to Larry Mullins about running a business

She ran into a lot of “sorry, no can do”; regarding business loans, “serious” kitchen jobs, and just about everything else. And Cheryl says she also ran into Neanderthals, who didn’t want a “little woman” in their kitchen in a position of authority, because they figured she’d be soft and needy. Har har hardy har har! She showed’em! You go Cheryl! I don’t know if you remember a lady once riding around SOHO on a bike, selling “sandwiches to the lunch time crowd or not. That was Cheryl.

cheryl smith headshot 1010 WINS Black History Month Spotlight: Cheryl Smith
And the long and short of it is, after hustling a few pennies together from friends and family, getting a bit more educated about starting and maintaining a business, finding a hot spot to locate the business and a crew (which resembles a cross between the cast of Debbie Allen’s old show “Fame” and “Friends”), Cheryl’s got a winner!

For more of Larry Mullins’ interview with Cheryl Smith

People come from all over the place to meet, greet, eat and pass out! Seriously, Miss Thing will feed you until your face falls off! And she says don’t let the name fool you, (Cheryl’s Global Soul). It’s not a “soul food” place, as in ethnic dishes. It’s food that’ll feed your “soul”…your inner spirit. Whatever Cheryl. You can call it what you want, I just call it the place that just screwed up my New Year’s resolution. But I love it!!  And the real kick is this: it’s located right across the street from the main Library in Brooklyn, which is where I usually spend my days off reading. Boy, reading has never been so much fun!

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