FERGUSON, Mo. — A phrase that we’re hearing a lot during the pandemic is “we are all in this together.”
Cathy Jenkins and her husband Jerome know this firsthand. They are the couple behind Cathy’s Kitchen in Ferguson. The restaurant has had to weather a number of setbacks, from unrest to a pandemic.
They give much of the credit for their survival to their community; the restaurant is doing well right now.
“It almost seems impossible to be thriving. But I am,” Jenkins said.
But the couple isn’t gloating about their success. They are giving back.
“People need people,” Jerome Jenkins said.
The two have been a part of the community for 30 years, and they’re trying to help their neighbors survive these tough times. They gave away free chicken noodle soup and hot dogs.
The Jenkins are paying it forward to the people who were there for them during the times of unrest in Ferguson. The restaurant was damaged more than once, and people came to help with the repairs.
“My heart was encouraged,” Cathy Jenkins said. “They’ve been the true word of a community coming together,” Jerome added.
The ability for them to get through those tough periods are key today. It taught them how to survive.
“You know you work so hard to achieve things,” said Cathy Jenkins.
“We had to figure out a way to stay alive. So, we were a little bit more prepared when everything happened this time,” Jerome Jenkins told 5 On Your Side.
But of course, cooking good food helps in bringing customers back.
“I put all the love into my food. I taste everything that we put out to make sure it is right,” explained the restaurant’s namesake.
“What people don’t realize, Cathy didn’t know how to cook when we first got married,” Jerome added.
“I did not,” Cathy confirmed.
But she learned, and she does it so well that Schnucks is now selling her sauce.
“This is the best way you help a small Black-owned business by giving them an opportunity,” said Jerome Jenkins. “Schnucks goes, ‘Do you have a logo?’ Cathy is the logo. Cathy is what makes it work.”
The opportunity is a big undertaking.
“It’s a whole new job,” said Cathy.
But the couple didn’t get this far without meeting challenges.
“When you’re failing, you’re learning. You know everything what not to do,” Cathy said.
No matter the success they have moving forward, Cathy’s Kitchen isn’t leaving the community that helped them to succeed.
“We’re just thankful they like us back, and that’s what makes you feel good,” said Jermone.
You can find Cathy’s sauce in five Schnucks locations, including the one in Ferguson.