To celebrate Black History Month, we’re spotlighting three business leaders and entrepreneurs from our “Pay It Forward” program whose accomplishments and contributions have made a positive impact on their communities.
We applaud these business owners’ accomplishments, contributions, and commitment to the communities where they live and work. Read more about these inspiring leaders below.
Chocolàt Restaurant & Bar
Chocolàt Restaurant & Bar, located in the heart of Harlem, is one of the neighborhood’s most popular brunch spots and a celebrated eatery featuring American comfort classics and Southern cuisine. Owner Leon Ellis is committed to giving back to local charities, especially those that support New Yorkers affected by food insecurity. During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Chocolàt began delivering meals to essential workers, and the restaurant continues to provide resources for some of the neighborhood’s neediest residents.
“We continue to serve those in our community who are food challenged,” says Ellis, “and we partner with other community organizations, like Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement (HCCI), to prepare and deliver over a hundred complete nutritional meals on a weekly and biweekly basis.”
There’s a lot to experience at Chocolàt, which is all part of Ellis’ plan. “I bring personal integrity, the desire to perform at the very highest level, and the dedication to create the environment necessary for our business to succeed,” he says. “I’m committed to creating a diverse, professional setting for our staff and guests. Our customers depend on us to surpass their expectations by continuously providing a high level of service and hospitality.” Guests can enjoy Chocolàt by dropping in for lunch, brunch, or dinner, and by hiring the restaurant to cater or host a special event.
Community Heart is a non-profit based in Rancho Cucamonga, California that's on a mission to empower communities to become self-sufficient and healthy. Theresa Jones founded Community Heart with the goal of alleviating food insecurity and helping families in her community learn how to grow at least 20 percent of their food. Jones and her colleagues give out LED and hydroponic kits designed for growing food at home and offer classes and vocational instruction in cooking, nutrition, landscaping, and gardening.
Jones believes Community Heart’s success lies in the values she brings to the business. “Believe in your vision and take the steps to become successful no matter how long the journey,” she says. “A positive attitude, a great work ethic, and dependability are my top values to bring into a business.” Jones also imparts these values through the six-week courses Community Heart offers to local elementary schools, which focus on teaching third-to-fifth-grade students the importance of growing sustainable food while living a healthy and fit lifestyle.
Community Heart also serves California’s Inland Empire by operating a food pantry every Thursday. “Giving back to our community is why the Community Heart program was founded,” says Jones.
Payne Pest Management
The Payne family, owners of Southern California’s Payne Pest Management, has built their business into one of the nation’s largest pest control firms. Founder Willie Payne started the company in 2006 with three employees working in one office. Seventeen years later, Payne Pest Management now serves customers across Southern California in three locations (San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles), and employs more than 50 associates.
Offering termite control, general pest management, and soil treatment to both homeowners and industrial clients, Payne Pest Management’s experienced professionals strive to uphold the family’s commitment to impeccable customer service. The company and its culture are now led by the late founder’s son, Jason Payne, who serves as CEO. “We try to treat every customer the way we would want our mother to be treated,” says Payne. “This is done through commitment, integrity, accountability, passion, and fun.”
In addition to partnering with numerous local non-profits and charities, Payne Pest Management engages with the community through a focus on athletics. Many Payne Pest Management team members volunteer as youth sports coaches at local schools and in recreational leagues.
Payne offers advice for all small business owners who want to grow as quickly as Payne Pest Management has. “Have a plan in place and be prepared to have flexibility in that plan,” Payne says. “Nothing always goes as planned and you must be prepared for change.”
About Pay It Forward
Spectrum Reach launched the “Pay It Forward” program in 2021, committing $15 million in advertising and support for multicultural-owned businesses. By the first quarter of 2023, Spectrum Reach will have helped more than 1,300 multicultural and women-owned businesses in more than 40 markets with the full power of our advertising expertise, services, and products.
Spectrum Reach is proud to offer multicultural-owned businesses a unique opportunity to receive a complimentary TV advertising campaign and commercial with our Pay It Forward program.