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In The Kitchen with Bret Thorn

Ameneh Marhaba to debut a brick-and-mortar version of Little Liberia in Detroit

The future restaurateur has been running pop-ups and catering since 2016

 

Ameneh Marhaba is doing her part to spread the love of West African food in Detroit.

Born in the West African country of Liberia, she grew up in that country, where her mother is form, as well as Lebanon, her father’s home country, before she, her dad, and siblings moved to Detroit when she was around 15.

Having always loved the food she grew up on, she wanted to share it with others in her new home. She thought of launching a food truck but soon learned that she was priced out of such a venture, so instead she started going to bars, offering to cook and sell items like jollof rice, fried plantains, and spiced meat skewers.

It turns out that the bars were receptive to the idea.

“Most of them were really nice about it,” she said.

So in 2016 she started doing pop-ups at those bars under the name Little Liberia. Over time, her efforts grew into catering gigs and one-off seated dinners.

Now, with the help of Hatch Detroit by TechTown, which awarded her $100,000 in a competition with some 350 other small business, Marhaba is getting ready to open Little Liberia as a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

She recently discussed her journey and her plans for the restaurant.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

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