CHATHAM —The Chatham Business Association sponsored its annual Mix N' Mingle social for local business owners and potential business owners to network with each other.
The three-hour evening event was held at the Museum Shore Yacht Club. For some business owners, it was their first time attending.
"This is nice. I've never been here to the Yacht Club or one of their socials," said Eddie Elkhatib, owner of A&S Food & Liquor, 308 E. 75th St. "This is a good way to meet my fellow Chatham business owners. I carry the Citizen newspaper at my store but never met the owner until now."
That owner is William Garth Sr., CEO of the Citizen Newspaper Group, which publishes a chain of weekly community newspapers, such as the Chicago Citizen, that focuses on news in black, South Side neighborhoods.
Garth, a longtime member of the business association, said there were not many black neighborhoods like Chatham that have a strong business community.
"Chatham is a black, middle-class community that has a diverse group of business owners," he said.
Anthony Cherry was another Chatham business owner attending for the first time. Last month, the entrepreneur opened Luversia's, a soul food restaurant at 522 E. 79th St., which was previously occupied by the legendary Izola's restaurant.
"The food tastes almost as good as mine," Cherry said jokingly. "I see some of my co-workers here. Not my employees but other restaurant owners in Chatham. We are co-workers and not competitors because we are all working together to provide Chatham with food choices."
Also attending the event was Diane Latiker, founder and executive director of Kids Off the Block Inc., a nonprofit youth organization in Roseland. She attended as a guest of Melinda Kelly, executive director of the Chatham Business Association.
"I am out here trying to save our kids and keep them from going to prison and that takes money," Latiker said. "What better place to develop relationships than at an event filled with entrepreneurs and small business owners."
As for Kelly, she was pleased to see so many members attend.
"This is for them to establish relationships and work together as local business owners," Kelly said. "We have liquor stores, banks, clothing stores, restaurants and car washes represented here tonight. Who said business hours are only from 9-5? A good business never sleeps and Chatham has nothing but good businesses."