A restaurant in Detroit’s Focus: HOPE neighborhood specializes in feeding the body and the mind.
Nandi’s Knowledge Café at 71 Oakman Blvd in Detroit attracts customers looking for a meal
as well as space to read, learn and share ideas aimed at community improvement and empowerment.
“It is a place where like minds meet,” said owner Lucy Pride, 55, of Highland Park,
who goes by the name, Nandi, a name she picked from an African-naming book; it means sweet.
“The Knowledge Café is a community gathering and home-based place where people feel at home and safe. It takes you back to Africa. It’s where our roots are. It’s a place of learning.”
Originally located in Highland Park, she purchased the current building in September of 2017. It’s both a café and bookstore.
The Café specializes in Black Bean Burgers, Salmon Burgers and Turkey Burgers.
Nandi cooks everything from scratch using her fresh, locally-grown products to produce dishes
from her own special recipes.
“The Black Bean Burger is my number one hit!” she said. She also serves fish and chicken, fried okra, sweet potato fries and regular fries. Her menu focuses on healthy, affordable foods.
“I make an amazing okra lentil soup,” she said. “I also make specialty teas.”
A robust collection of books steeped in African and African-American history and culture adorn the café that doubles as a bookshop. “The bookstore exists to tell stories,” she said. “If you are interested or curious about religion, history, and culture or learning about your glorious African past, Nandi’s Knowledge Café is the place for you. These books are very important to our lives.”
In addition to food and books, the café offers various activities, including poetry nights at
9 p.m. Thursdays.
“This is an opportunity for poets to develop their skills in a comfortable, relaxed and culturally relevant place,” Nandi said. Customers appreciate her menu of food and information.
“There’s a wealth of information and ideas here,” said Yolanda Booker. “It’s a nice place to
spend time with people and talk, enjoy great food, and get to know each other while getting to know our history”.
Nandi said despite being in business for many years, she still struggles to keep the place going and growing. She doesn’t have to corporate or grant support afforded some businesses and
depends on community support.
Despite the challenges, she’s happy to be there and was recently inspired by the “Black
Panther” movie that she says seems to have rekindled pride in African history and culture, especially among young people.
“The Knowledge Café has been a place for them to come and see their history, read about their history and experience their history all in one place,” she said. “I often greet people with “Welcome to Wakanda,” and they feel like they’ve come home to Africa.”
Nandi’s Knowledge Café is located at 71 Oakman Boulevard. Hours: Sun- day through Saturday, 10