Detroit Heroes: Nya Marshall
Highlighting the Essential Workers of Detroit
During these uncertain times, we can lean on hope! We are starting a new series entitled "Detroit Heroes" where we will highlight the essential workers at the City of Detroit ensuring we are safe and our city is running!
Imagine, after years of planning; opening your own restaurant -- only to have it virtually shut down just 75 days later.
“It was a horrifying experience,” recalls Nya Marshall, the owner of Ivy Kitchen, an American Fusion restaurant on the east side of Detroit.
When the pandemic hit, business came to a screeching halt for Marshall, forcing her to lay off twenty employees that she had just hired. “Many of these people left jobs to come and support my dream.”
For Marshall, it was sink or swim. She had to revamp her entire model, adapting her menu to carryout only. Like many other restaurants in the city, customers can place an order by phone or online, and a staff member will bring the food to their vehicle.
But unlike other established restaurants, Ivy Kitchen doesn’t have the customer base to thrive in an already weakened economy. “We did well the three months we were open… but we were still new,” says Marshall. “Right now business is down almost 90 percent.”
Having grown up on Detroit’s west side and east side, Marshall proudly calls herself a “We-sider.” And despite the circumstances, she maintains her commitment to helping the community that helped her.
When she was a child, Marshall was a recipient of a free lunch program. The late Delores Bennett, a revered advocate for Detroit’s children, led the program. Following Bennett’s example, Marshall says, “I will not conduct any business without a mission of giving back to the community, specifically the City of Detroit.”
Today, as part of the Feed The Frontlines - Detroit initiative, Marshall helps distribute food to the City of Detroit frontline workers during the COVID-19 crisis. Ivy Kitchen has provided meals for the Detroit Police and Fire departments, Detroit EMS, and Sinai Grace Hospital.
Knowing these workers are under tremendous stress, she goes above and beyond by leaving a “thank you” note with each meal. “If it wasn’t for them |LS|frontline workers|RS| God only knows what would have happened to all of us.”
As part of her service, Marshall delivered meals to the hotel that housed quarantined police and fire personnel. She recounts the overwhelming gratitude she received. “After the meal, several called and thanked me personally. I told them it was a pleasure and an honor.”
Marshall could have permanently closed the doors to Ivy Kitchen. But understanding the outcry for assistance propelled her to stick it out. She plans on participating in the Feed The Frontlines - Detroit program as long as there’s a need.
“I love the city, I love the people… I couldn’t imagine not doing it, to be quite honest.”
Help frontline workers by going here: feedthefrontlinesdetroit.com
For good eats from Ivy Kitchen, visit: ivykc.com
For COVID-19 resources, call the Detroit Health Department Hotline at (313) 876-4000 or visit the City's COVID-19 response page here.