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Business in her blood: Nia Grace of Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen

Suhra Nahib
Business in her blood: Nia Grace of Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen
Nia Grace bought Darryl’s Corner Bar in 2018. PHOTO: SUHRA NAHIB

When Nia Grace visited Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen eight years ago, she knew it was the kind of restaurant she would want to have in the future.

“When I came in here, I was like, ‘Well, if I ever had to have a place, I want it to be just like this. Everything about it is great, from it being on the corner, the neighborhood, and its walking distance,” she says. “Then when you walk inside — the intimate feel, the colors, it was very vibrant. The music and the food and the drinks [made me think] this is a perfect place if I was to ever have a business like this.”

In September 2018, Grace brought Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen. Since then, the restaurant has been thriving with great food, live music and a good environment. But before buying a restaurant and settling down in Boston, Grace was working full time in a nonprofit and had helmed a couple of other small businesses.

After spending five years as a director of marketing and community outreach, Grace realized that she had made good connections and developed great skills, and decided to start her own business.

“So I took those three titles [marketer, business developer and hospitality manager] and said, I can apply these skill sets to a lot of different businesses. And with that, I came here to Darryl’s and I was offering up my marketing skills specifically for social media,” she said.

Business entrepreneurship runs in Grace’s family. Her father, brother and mother have all owned businesses. Before Darryl’s, Grace had seven years of experience in food service. She also had experience producing shows and managing talent, which she has applied to Darryl’s.

“The point here is that this isn’t just a food service or a bar service,” she says. “This is entertainment. Entertainment is such is a large part of the business that we do six nights a week. You can find live entertainment for four hours every night and then twice on Sunday with our Sunday jazz brunch.”

Besides live music, Darryl’s is known for its soul food and its location at edge of Roxbury and the South End, at 604 Columbus Ave. The location of the restaurant makes it easier for any group of people at any age to come and enjoy food and music.

“We are literally at the intersection of where old Roxbury, our old black and brown communities, meet this newer South End, and it’s another kind of area. So that diversity is something that I am most proud of,” says Grace.

Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen has a total of 40 employees, full- and part-time. The customers that visit Darryl’s vary in age, Grace says, but many are regulars.

“This place has gone through different transitions and it being such a community staple, we’re able to be very cross-generational,” Grace says. “When you think about making this your home, you know that we can all get together for a family dinner or family reunion, and everybody’s in the room.”

What Grace hopes for in the long run is for Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen to continue to thrive the way it has for 62 years, starting in its original incarnation as Bob the Chef’s.

“I’d love to see us into our century year of operation,” she says, “and as a true community staple that people depend on and count on for their regular camaraderie, for their celebrations, that continues to be a space that allows them to showcase their talent, and continues to be that first job for some.”

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