A new restaurant to join Montclair’s dining scene is Cornbread Farm-to-Soul, a fast-casual-style restaurant serving soul food on the corner of 362 Bloomfield Avenue. The co-founders of Cornbread are two local female entrepreneurs — Adenah Bayoh, who owns eight restaurants, including four IHOP franchises; and Zadie B. Smith, the chef of Cornbread and also the owner of several child care centers in the area. The menu items are sourced from local farms and businesses and are free of hormones and steroids. There are three Cornbread locations throughout New Jersey and New York, making this its fourth location. On November 8th, 2023, the Montclair community gathered to celebrate its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and food samples. Read on to learn more about the co-founders and Cornbread Farm-to-Soul in Montclair, NJ.
About the Co-Founders
Adenah Bayoh grew up in Liberia and later traveled to the US as a teenager, settling in Newark. Adenah’s business journey began with her grandmother’s small village enterprises of owning a restaurant, a bread factory, and a farm, where Adenah learned the value of hard work and success. This early exposure to business stuck with her, and during her college years at Fairleigh Dickinson University, she involved herself in many small businesses, from babysitting to laundry and hairstyling in her dorm.
In 2008, she opened an IHOP franchise in Irvington, becoming one of the youngest IHOP franchisees in the country. Since then, she has continued to build her success through real estate investments, expanding her franchise holdings, and exploring new ventures. Adenah is also planning to open a Brick City Vegan restaurant as part of the Seymour Street development project in Montclair. Cornbread Farm-to-Soul brings Adenah’s vision to life as an innovative soul food restaurant where people come together to enjoy high-quality food. This concept was a tribute to her grandmother’s belief that good food can be ethically sourced and that a restaurant is a place to bring the community together.
From a young age, Adenah always admired her grandmother, seeing her as a powerful woman who built a life for herself, with no educational background. This sparked Adenah’s aspiration to become a business owner, especially as a woman. During her free time, she actively supports other woman-owned businesses and addressed this in the speaking program at Cornbread’s grand opening on November 8th. “We have got to make it easier for women entrepreneurs. It shouldn’t be a life-or-death situation. But it’s worth it. At the end of the day the impact is much greater than any hardship,” Adenah said.
Co-founder Zadie B. Smith is an entrepreneur who discovered her passion for cooking in her early years. She was taught by her parents who reside in Titon, Georgia, and has remained dedicated to the kitchen ever since. Zadie delivers her passion for cooking and lifelong culinary experience to Cornbread, where she plays a pivotal role in crafting the menu and flavors of each meal. Zadie also owns a couple of businesses herself, including several childcare centers that provide high-quality education for urban communities.
The mission of these two entrepreneurs is to guarantee that urban communities receive top-notch quality services, whether in the business of food or education. As a team, their mission is to bring the high-quality food services of Cornbread to the Montclair community.
While it has been in the works since 2020, on November 8th, 2023, the official grand opening of Cornbread Farm-to-Soul, an innovative farm-to-table soul food restaurant that opened its fourth location in Montclair, New Jersey, was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Family, friends, and the local community were invited to attend the grand opening event and watch as the co-founders Adenah Bayoh and Zadie B. Smith cut the ribbon to mark Cornbread’s official opening at 362 Bloomfield Avenue.
In addition to the ribbon cutting, there were some remarks and a complimentary reception where guests sampled Cornbread’s soul food dishes. The ceremony began with five-minute speeches made by the co-founders, and individuals who had a role in the business function and community. Adenah was the last one to speak and shared the story of how Cornbread came to be in Montclair, her connection to the community, and the importance of women’s entrepreneurship.
What started as an idea to bring Cornbread Farm-to-Soul in Montclair, began in August 2020, when Zadie and Adenah signed a lease and contracted with a builder. At the time, Adenah had just opened a location in Brooklyn and decided to continue with its expansion. Along the way, the financing did not proceed and other challenges kept delaying her Montclair plans. What ended up as a three-year journey, finally lifted up. “Just when I thought my back was against the wall, the community and the people around me showed up.” As a self-made entrepreneur, Adenah not only built a business model around investing solely in her employees but also in the community she does business. “Women, black or white, we are the bedrock of our communities. The impact happens and we’re going to keep going,” Adenah said.
From growing up in Newark to starting her first businesses in the area, Essex County has been a central stage for Adenah’s achievements. In her speech at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, she explained how deep her connection is to the Montclair area. “Montclair is not new to me. Montclair was always a community I was familiar with, having lived in Newark, so coming here felt good. I always want to be in communities that feel good because it’s not just about opening a restaurant, it’s about having an impact on the community and being one with the people.”
In Zadie’s speech at the event, she highlighted her role in the business as one of the chefs. “I feel really proud to be here and as a cook, I want you to love my food.” She then went on to express how much she and Adenah appreciate the tradition of what “good food” tastes like and how hard they worked together in developing the flavor profiles of every dish.
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, guests lined up to sample Cornbread’s soul food dishes, prepared by Zadie. Among the soul food that was featured was rice, potato salad, chicken, and cornbread, of course. To end the ceremony, Adenah thanked everyone for coming to support the grand opening of Cornbread. “I’m going to continue this journey and thank the community for coming here to celebrate today,” Adenah said.
About Cornbread Farm-to-Soul
As part of the Seymour Street development project in Montclair, Cornbread Farm-to-Soul is a fast-casual farm-to-table restaurant focusing on authentic savory soul food and the use of innovative technology to provide a unique and family-friendly dining experience. All of the ingredients are sourced from local farmers and shops, ensuring the food is free of hormones and steroids. There are three other locations of Cornbread Farm-to-Soul; one in Maplewood, New Jersey, Newark, New Jersey, and Brooklyn, New York. November 8th, 2023, marked the official opening of its fourth location at 362 Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair.
The menu features a range of options, such as the signature homemade cornbread, along with fried chicken, fried fish, wings, ribs, and baked chicken. Sides to accompany the meal include rice, potato salad, yams, mac + cheese, green beans, and mashed potatoes with gravy. For those with a sweet tooth, the menu also serves chicken and waffles and desserts such as apple or peach cobbler.
The tradition of soul food is one that represents the importance of family and the strong ties that bring a community together. Cornbread Farm-to-Soul’s mission is to make Cornbread a place where people can celebrate these bonds and create new ones over food. With this concept in mind, Adenah says the ambiance of Cornbread Farm-to-Soul is going to bring “a cultural vibe” to Montclair.
“It’s gonna be a vibe, a cultural vibe. One of the things I want to do is make this little corner a gathering space. In the summer, I have plans to bring in a jazz singer and guitarist outside. I want people to come here to enjoy good food and music. That’s what I want to do with this space and that is what this restaurant is going to bring to Montclair,” Adenah said.