Iona Jimenez’s precocious daughter ran through her spacious 3 Black Cats Café & Cakery. The new spot—serving blueberry muffins, lemon cakes, jerk chicken and macaroni and cheese made by Iona and her sisters Diana and Melissa—opened last month in the Brownsville.
The Jimenez sisters grew up in a public house in the neighborhood. They’ve since moved to other parts of Brooklyn, but they still have strong ties to their home community and wanted to translate their love of baking into an affordable neighborhood café.
In the process of developing their business plan and researching funding opportunities, the sisters connected with the Dream Big Foundation: an organization focused on economic development in low income neighborhoods. Now Dream Big’s vision is being realized through 3 Black Cats and its adjoining Innovation Center, which will support new entrepreneurs by reinvesting profits from the café into a local business incubator.
The partnership between Dream Big and the Jimenez sisters is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Yolanda Matthews has lived in Brownsville for 50 years and was thrilled to hear the café was opening. “A place like this will change the mindset of the community. We have McDonald’s and we have soul food but nothing like this. Not like other neighborhoods have. It’s a place to come chill and listen to music, somewhere where you can come be yourself.”
The space emulates the neighborhood’s colorful and energetic feel with plenty of plants, encouraging signage and large windows. It also has a mix of communal and individual workspaces, ready to be reserved by local entrepreneurs.
Photos courtesy of the Dream Big Foundation.