It’s a fam­ily af­fair at South Side’s Munchiez

Chicago Sun-Times - - TASTE - BY EVAN F. MOORE, STAFF RE­PORTER | @evanF­moore

As South Side busi­ness­woman Qiana Allen viewed cell phone app footage of loot­ers break­ing into her Bev­erly­based cloth­ing bou­tique in May, she knew she had to take mat­ters into her own hands.

“I was up­set. I was fu­ri­ous. I was hurt,” said Allen, of her tem­po­rar­ily closed Cul­ture’s Closet cloth­ing store at 2147 W. 95th Street, that caters to full-fig­ured women. “It was a huge thing, and I felt like those boys didn’t have any guid­ance to show them that this wasn’t the right [way to ex­press anger].

“As time went on and I un­der­stood that these [pro­tes­tors] didn’t have that lead­er­ship. I def­i­nitely want to [foster sup­port] so my boys didn’t make the same mis­take. … I no­ticed they learned a les­son from that as well, so I’m just grate­ful that we were able to start this busi­ness to­gether so that they can have an out­let and not have to re­sort to the street.”

Soon af­ter, Allen told her sons, Keenan and Kameron Cole, that she was go­ing to open Munchiez (1803 W. 95th Street), a nov­elty candy store and ce­real bar, and make them part own­ers and co-work­ers along­side her.

Munchiez, which opened Aug. 1, of­fers “Birth­day Bowls” of ce­real for cus­tomers cel­e­brat­ing their spe­cial days, and hosts ce­real eat­ing con­tests. Other menu items in­clude: col­ored, fla­vored and lac­tose-free milk, 33 dif­fer­ent ce­real op­tions, loaded milk­shakes, candy, pickles and Walk­ing Ta­cos, among other treats.

The store also boasts an an­tique Ms. PacMan game, Gi­ant Jenga, gi­ant Uno cards, and a gi­ant Con­nect Four set.

Al­len­not only wants to keep her boys out of trou­ble, she wants to help them ac­quire en­tre­pre­neur­ial skills along the way, she said.

“I’m def­i­nitely try­ing to show them hard work, ded­i­ca­tion, and am­bi­tion. But they’re both tak­ing the ini­tia­tive to do cer­tain things that will make the busi­ness grow. And those are the things that I’ve def­i­nitely want to make sure that they take with them for the rest of their lives as they grow into young men and be­come their own peo­ple.”

Kameron Cole, 15, is aware of his sta­tus as a teenage en­tre­pre­neur. He says his fa­vorite item to pre­pare at the eatery is the Walk­ing Taco.

While most 15 year olds are hang­ing out with their friends or look­ing for likes on In­sta­gram, Kameron is all about learn­ing en­trepreneur­ship skills.

“I’m good with cus­tomers, but at first, I was ner­vous. I like to serve cus­tomers and make sure that they are al­right,” said Kameron Cole.

Kameron’s older brother and busi­ness part­ner, Keenan, says the main les­son he’s learn­ing from work­ing with the fam­ily is pa­tience.

“My mom hasn’t re­ally stressed that yet, but I can see it,” said Keenan Cole. I’m only 20 years old, and all that I’ve seen my mom do is be pa­tient. ‘Don’t rush them’ she would say. And it was nat­u­ral. If it’s not your di­rec­tion, then don’t go that way.”

Make no mis­take, mom is in charge at home, too.

“Be­ing an en­tre­pre­neur and mother at the same time it’s been in­ter­est­ing; they know that I’m the boss whether we’re at home or here so that they re­spect me in all as­pects,” said Allen, an alumna of Chicago High School for Agri­cul­tural Sci­ences. “And be­cause they’ve ac­tu­ally been through the jour­ney with me and have seen how I’ve grown as an en­tre­pre­neur, they feel this is a new thing just for them. But re­spect­ing me as a mother and their boss has not been a chal­lenge.”

If her sons want to pur­sue a dif­fer­ent ca­reer as they get older, Allen says they have the op­tion of main­tain­ing an own­er­ship stake in the busi­ness, or they can be bought out.

And what ad­vice does Allen have for par­ents who want to ex­pose their chil­dren to en­trepreneur­ship?

“I just want to en­cour­age other peo­ple who have as­pi­ra­tions of be­com­ing en­trepreneur­s to keep go­ing no mat­ter what the cir­cum­stances are and what they’re faced with,” said Allen, who plans to re­open Cul­ture’s Closet. “If they have a dream or de­sire to be­come some­thing greater, go for it.”

Although Thanks­giv­ing is three months away, peo­ple with a sweet tooth can start their turkey din­ner ahead of time.

Brach’s has re­leased a new bag of candy corn called the Turkey Din­ner Candy Corn, in­spired by a typ­i­cal Thanks­giv­ing din­ner.

The fla­vors in­clude roasted turkey, green beans, gin­ger-glazed car­rot, sweet potato pie and cran­berry sauce.

The new candy corn op­tion is now avail­able at Wal­greens, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany. The candy comes in a 12-ounce bag for $2.99.

Ac­cord­ing to the IG ac­count @pup­pre­views, not all six fla­vors are tasty. While the cran­berry sauce, gin­ger glazed car­rots, and sweet potato pie can­dies are “de­li­cious” and “amaz­ing,” the turkey fla­vor is “down­right wrong” but still en­joy­able.

“When it comes to a sea­sonal sta­ple like candy corn, Fer­rara is No. 1 and Brach’s has been sell­ing our clas­sic candy corn since the 1950s.

“We’re al­ways in­no­vat­ing with trends and fun fla­vors, and we know this year is dif­fer­ent than any­thing we’ve ever seen — much like our new Turkey Din­ner candy corn, which in­cludes a full-course meal of tra­di­tional Thanks­giv­ing fa­vorites,” said Mariah Havens, se­nior brand man­ager, sea­sonal mar­ket­ing for Fer­rara, via state­ment.


Qiana Allen and her sons Kameron Cole (left) and Keenan Cole pose for a pic­ture at their Munchiez candy/sweets shop in Bev­erly.


Munchiez is now open for busi­ness in Bev­erly.


Turkey Din­ner Candy Corn is avail­able at par­tic­i­pat­ing Wal­green’s stores.

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