Honeysuckle Provisions feeds a West Philly neighborhood with food and Black culture
After eight years of cooking in fine-dining restaurants, Philadelphia-raised poet, essayist, and historian Omar Tate set out to tell the story of Blackness in America.
As 2020 rolled in, Tate was on his way with Honeysuckle to winning a chef-of-the-year nod from Esquire. Then two events changed his plans: He fell in love and the world was roiled by the pandemic, in quick succession. He moved back to Philadelphia, living for a while in a spare room in his mother’s house, running Honeysuckle as takeout from South Philly Barbacoa in the Italian Market.
Last week, Tate and his now-wife, chef Cybille St.Aude-Tate, opened Honeysuckle Provisions, a grocery store with takeout food, on 48th Street near Pine in West Philadelphia. And while Honeysuckle still focuses in the values of nourishment and reclamation of Black food traditions and cultural aesthetics, its mission has shifted literally closer to home.
The couple, who tend their own small farm in Montgomery County and work with other local Black farmers and producers, want to give their neighbors access to good food and fresh produce, helping to meet a challenge in areas that are food insecure.
“If you go to Black neighborhoods on a Friday night out, it’s not going to look like Le Bec-Fin - it’s going to be [dinner from] your favorite takeout restaurant, spending $20 on a food platter. To me, this store is the refined version of how people in our culture experience luxury, enjoying food. You come into a place, and there’s more of a practical approach to the experience. You’re buying things to take home and enjoy with your family.” - Omar Tate, Owner Honeysuckle