Deborah started off as any other kid. She developed a dream from simply watching her surroundings. This so happened to be watching her mother cook some of her favorite meals. For Deborah, cooking gave her a place to escape. After graduating high school she made a firm decision to pursue cooking as a career.
She decided to move from her home town of Gainesville,Fl to attend Daytona State College in 2012. Daytona State College had a great culinary school and it was fairly close. This is where she met her current friend and mentor Andra Chishlom. Andra has had some great success in culinary arts which includes her major roles at Daytona State College, her various news appearances, and her great run in cooking show competitions. Deborah gives Andra much respect for all the help and promotion she has given her throughout her career. Deborah graduated from DSC in 2014.
In 2015 Deborah decided that she wanted to open a restaurant of her own. Her pastor prayed for her and told her that she would be opening a restaurant soon. That was enough motivation for her to pursue it seriously. With the help of her mother and father she was able to find a building that was reasonable for her. Unfortunately, the space was occupied at the time. Yet, something filled her spirits about the place and she prayed over it as if it was already hers. About a week later she saw that people were moving things out of the place. She immediately called the realtors and by late 2015 Lil Mama’s Kitchen was born.
The place was in disarray but with her strong team that consisted of her husband, parents, her pastor and her uncle eddie she was able to turn the place around. Strictly from the connections she gained while in Daytona Beach, she was able to have a successful soft opening. There were a lot of great vibes and that’s all Deborah asks for.
“I really just love great vibes and atmosphere. I love to come out and greet people, ask them how they are doing, and engage with them, ya know? I love to uplift people. Be the light to their day. I’m a community person, as well. I just love to help people. I also like to speak inspiration into women. Especially, when it comes to respecting their bodies and being much more than what’s on the surface. Self value, Self Worth, and knowing who you are is the key. I feel like a woman such as myself owning a restaurant inspires them.” – Deborah Branch – Owner of Lil Mama’s Kitchen
When speaking to Deborah about what dishes brought in the most customers she couldn’t pin point things at first. Then her mothers chitterlings came to mind. She said the chitterlings were a hot item that people frequently requested. She switches it up pretty much every day, though. She has a special for each day she is open. Her focus is soul food.
Cooking wasn’t tough for her. She says that learning the business was difficult.
“This being the first time of me running a business, it was definitely tough at first. I always worked under people but never fully ran a business on my own. Learning how to manage the finances, menu roll outs, learning certain employees….it’s things you don’t really think about until you actual experience it. The advice I have for anyone starting a business for the first time is research, research, research. You can never learn too much. I definitely give credit to God for how things fell in place for me.”
Though her main success came from her restaurant and cooking, her main goal is to help woman in general. She keeps God first and really thanks her parents, her pastor, her husband, and Andra for all of their help throughout her journey and rise to the top.
Restaurant location :
200 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd
Social Media Handles
Lil Mama’s Kitchen –
Written By : Bruce Walton Jr