Jul. 3, 2023 By Ethan Marshall
The Cradle NYC, a West African restaurant in Rockaway Beach, was one of a handful of businesses across the city chosen to be a part of the DoorDash Accelerator for Local Restaurants program. As a result of being selected for this program, The Cradle NYC will receive a $10,000 grant from DoorDash.
According to The Cradle NYC’s founder and owner, Babajide Alaothe, he intends to put the grant towards a new location for the business. He hopes to move the restaurant to a location that is larger, allowing for more diners and a better dining atmosphere. The process of transitioning out of the location in the Rockaways has already begun.
“With the DoorDash grant, I think it really helps us now to get a bigger space that maybe we wouldn’t have had access to based off our income,” Alaothe said. “But now, with the grant, we can actually get a bigger space and do all the things that we envisioned.”
The search for a new space comes just as the lease at the current location expires. Alaothe said he and his wife, Pesy Sikyala, have been working with friends in the Brooklyn area to try and find a good location there that could prove to be accessible and profitable. He also noted that a different location in Queens isn’t off the table either, as the search for a new location is currently underway.
“We just haven’t found a place that’s fitting yet,” Alaothe said. “We just don’t want it to take so much out of us in terms of financials. We’re still trying to find that ideal place that wouldn’t cost an extra amount of money for a buildout.”
Ultimately, Alaothe’s goal for The Cradle NYC is to be able to expand it to multiple locations. He also expressed a desire for each of these locations to be open and busy year-round. In his mind, each location would create a fine dining experience through its atmosphere, with art put up tracing back to his Nigerian roots in order to bring more of the West African culture there.
Alaothe and his wife founded the restaurant in 2018 after finding success in the Rockaways as a food cart. The business had been self-funded by them the entire time. Food had long been something that interested him, as his mother was a chef. When he started cooking food for himself, Alaothe quickly grew to love it.
Alaothe was first made aware of DoorDash’s grant opportunity from a representative for the Queens Chamber of Commerce. When Alaothe expressed a desire for his restaurant to be able to connect with more people, the representative told him about the DoorDash grant. He and his wife then applied their restaurant for the grant.
“Everyone applies with the hopes of getting in,” Alaothe said. “Once we got the email back letting us know we got accepted, we were super excited and thrilled to be part of the cohort of 20 amazing restaurant owners just like ourselves. It feels refreshing to be part of this group and to be chosen among the many applicants. Sometimes in life, we have ups and downs, and then there are those very few moments that we do that we just see the light at the end of the tunnel. When we got accepted, it felt really good to be a part of that.”
Rockaway Beach has been Alaothe’s for the past decade. He and his family moved from Nigeria to New York in 2004, when he was nine years old. His parents have taken a lot of pride in seeing him bring Nigerian cuisine to New York City, which had been seriously lacking in having that kind of food available.