Brewing company

Black-Owned Moor’s Brewing Company Wins First Prize in South Side Pitch Competition

HYDE PARK — A black-owned brewing company that planned to open a brewery in Chicago and expand to other heavily black cities has won $10,000 to expand the business in a pitch competition this week.

Moor’s Brewing Company – which sells a session beer, an IPA and an Imperial Porter – beat four other finalists to win the South Side Pitch competition on Thursday at the Polsky Exchange, 1452 E. 53rd St. in Hyde Park.

The grand prize of $10,000 will pay for retail store displays and travel expenses as the brand strives to expand into Atlanta and other major cities with large black populations.

“It will definitely be a nice drop in the bucket for the whole effort,” said Jamhal Johnson, co-founder and chief financial officer of the brewery. “We look forward to being part of [South Side Pitch] in the future and help other entrepreneurs get to this place.

South Side Pitch’s win comes shortly after the brewery announced it had secured placements at multiple Mariano locations. This came after a few minutes pitch in the style of a successful “Shark Tank” to the leaders of Mariano this summer.

The other finalists and their awards:

  • Second prize, $7,000: The Record Track, a South Chicago-based music and entertainment store that has been in business for over three decades. The funds will support the demolition and reconstruction of its storefront at 2804 E. 87th St.
  • Third prize, $5,000: It’s So Creative LLC, a marketing, communications, and web development agency based in Washington Heights and the South Loop. The award will help CEO CJ Harris hire staff and access technology to manage and grow the company’s Brand Ignitor program, a branding service for local small businesses.
  • Fourth prize, $3,000: Healthy Substance, a vegan Mexican restaurant at 6852 W. Archer Ave. at Garfield Ridge. The funds will go toward the restaurant’s goal of mass-producing shelf-stable, plant-based products that can compete with the cost and taste of meat, chief financial officer Miguel Franco said.
  • Fifth prize, $1,000: T’Kor Couture, a Woodlawn-based luxury fashion brand specializing in crochet clothing and accessories. The funds will support raw materials for apparel, digital marketing and technology needed to create the company’s website, designer Dinah T’Kor Clottey said.

The Record Track also won the $2,500 Social Impact Award for Commitment to the Community and the $1,000 Audience Favorite Pitch Award for a total of $10,500.

Co-owners Connie Anderson and Clifton Muhammad envision a “hands-on music experience” at their rebuilt store. Visitors could learn to play chords to their favorite songs, take music lessons and interact with local musicians, like Sean Black, who played guitar during the Record Track presentation on Thursday.

“Someone would spend about what they spend in a movie theater right now – $15 – and for that amount of money they can spend time in space as they please,” Muhammad said. “If you want to come back again and again, you can get an annual subscription.”

The Record Track will continue to sell inventory from its online store in the renovated space. Anderson and Muhammad also want to acquire seven neighboring lots for an outdoor performance hall.

Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
Left to right: Director of the IJ Clinic on Entrepreneurship Beth Kregor, The Record Track co-owners Clifton Muhammad and Connie Anderson, and musician Sean Black pose with The Record Track’s $1,000 Community Favorite Prize.

The competition, organized by the Institute for Justice’s Entrepreneurship Clinic, rewards independent, for-profit businesses with fewer than 50 employees and based south of Roosevelt Road.

Sista Afya, a South Shore-based mental wellness resource center focused on Black women, won the 2021 competition. Since then, Sista Afya has hired four therapists “when we thought we were only hiring two,” executive director Camesha Jones said this week.

The center also doubled its number of clients receiving discounted therapy to at least 30, Jones said.

“South Side Pitch definitely had an impact,” Jones said. “We were able to increase our income. I don’t know if we would be where we are today without winning this contest.

An online directory of black-owned businesses, The Black Mall, won the South Side Pitch in 2020. Cleaning supplies company Dinobi Detergent won the award in 2019.

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