Community Cornerstones Embrace Change on Ralph David Abernathy

The RDA Streetscapes is home to a variety of small businesses.

In the heart of Southwest Atlanta lies a bustling community along Ralph David Abernathy Blvd, where the Atlanta BeltLine’s latest streetscapes project is making big improvements with wider sidewalks, new crosswalk ramps, street trees, brighter pedestrian lighting, and even protected bike lanes. This streetscapes project aims to enhance safety and access between the BeltLine, schools, and a lively business district in the historic Westview neighborhood. The Barber Loft and D Cafe and Catering are pillars of connection and support there, as they share a common thread of dedication to their community and a commitment to providing more than just goods and services.

The Barber Loft’s owner, Ronald Jones, reflects on RDA. Photo by the Sintoses.

The Barber Loft, located at 1538 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd, has been an important part of the RDA community since 1994. Since joining the local business district in 2008, it has become more than just the usual neighborhood barbershop. With over 30 years of service, The Barber Loft offers a range of grooming experiences, including beard trimming, haircuts, classic razor shaves, hair and beard products, and conditioning treatments.

It also serves as a safe space for its clients and the community. The journey of The Barber Loft is linked to the personal history of owner Ronald Jones, who has spent over fifty-three years in the neighborhood. Born less than a mile away, his commitment to his community runs deep. “As an African American business owner in a statistically low-income neighborhood, it has always been important to instill positivity and well-being in everyone.

Being a barber is not only about providing a service but also lending an ear, a helping hand, and providing guidance when need be,” he says. Mr. Jones works to keep his business essential, evolving, and modest and hosts annual community service events Ralph David Abernathy. Beyond the scissors and hair clippers, it serves as a place for cultural exchange and acceptance, growing connections beyond its swivel chairs.

Ms.D enjoys handcrafting Southern dishes for the neighborhood. Photo by Dr. Arshley Emile.

 

Down the street, D Cafe and Catering stands as an example of the power of food and family. Mrs. D. Lee opened their doors to the Westview community in 2013 after renovating the property to include an event rental space, lounge, and patio. The restaurant has been run with purpose ever since, offering soulful cuisine to the community in a family-style setting with food delivery, dine-in, and catering services.

“I dreamed of opening a restaurant; my mom dreamed of it first. I started the business to honor my family through food and build a future for us and our purpose…We enjoy sharing our recipes with the city we love,” she says.

Mrs. D also knows the importance of giving back to the community and motivating the next generation. She is the creator of Kitchen Academy, a program that provides at-risk youth with the culinary skills needed for a career. Additionally, she uses her space to create pop-ups for aspiring entrepreneurs to share their cuisine and get a feel for running their own business. “We are a business that puts profit and people in the same sentence intentionally,” she says.

For these entrepreneurs, RDA is not just a business district—it’s home. As ongoing construction upgrades the street, the business district is still open and eager to serve Atlanta and its visitors. The Barber Loft and D Cafe and Catering look forward to opening their doors early each morning to fresh faces around the neighborhood. “From what I’ve noticed, the luxury of pedestrians being able to walk freely and safely will allow us to continue to grow,” Mrs. D says. Mr. Jones agrees. “Pedestrian interaction has always been a highlight of my day…a simple conversation or greeting can spread an immense level of happiness,” he says. As they continue to serve and support the community, they leave a lasting mark on the place they call home.

 

To learn more about D Cafe and Catering, visit dcafeatl.com.

To book an appointment at The Barber Loft, call 404-7580-9700.

 

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