Chester's newest restaurant is located in an unlikely place – Chester Housing Authority's William Penn Homes. The property's community center has been converted into the Red Brick Café, which held its grand opening Monday evening with well over 100 people attending. Pam and Darren Dickerson, who have operated Amir's Catering in Chester since 1996, are including their catering business as part of the Red Brick Café. The restaurant prepares kosher or halal foods to accommodate Chester's large Muslim population. That means no pork, all halal meat and chicken. Pam is the cook. Darren, a 16-year military veteran and former William Penn resident, does the rest. He builds the structures, fixes appliances, and helps in any way he can.
"When you walk in your eyes see a world of wonder," Darren Dickerson says. "Once the food is in your mouth the pleasure principle is very high. "Darren says he and his wife want to hire employees from inside the community, and they are prepared to train them. Aside from having an independent business directly in the midst of a CHA development, CHA Executive Director Steven Fischer says the training opportunity was a compelling reason for him to encourage this venture. "It's great that fantastic food will be so readily available in a part of the city that doesn't have many restaurants.
Even more importantly, though, is that the opportunity for resident job training at one of our developments is in keeping with our mission," Fischer said. "Residents will be able to earn the industry standard ServSafe certificates, gain training and jump start their careers in culinary arts. "Earlier this year CHA launched its Resident Training Academy for jobs in the healthcare industry. The agency will use its experience from that program in structuring this new culinary component. As for the restaurant, Pam is a native of Virginia and brings that southern cooking style with her.
The restaurant has a takeout window, but customers can also dine in. It will be open three days a week to start, Thursday and Friday from 11-8 and Saturday 12-8. If things go well, they will expand the days of operation. Darren says he suggested the restaurant be named Red Brick Café because when he grew up at William Penn folks in the community called the site the red brick (because all the buildings were red brick). "It just fits," he says. The Dickerson’s want to be invested in the neighborhood, so they plan to move near the William Penn. They hope others will move into the neighborhood as well. "It now has next to no crime, thanks to the work of the housing authority," Darren said. "A nice place to live and get a great meal..