American Heart Health MonthFebruary 2024
Lake Charles Gulf Coast Mural: Public Art Tells the Stories of a CommunityFebruary 2024
by Angie Kay Dilmore
Southwest Louisiana boasts a legendary history of Black-owned businesses and their owners who made important contributions to the colorful tapestry of our regional culture. For example, Reginald McWilliam Ball, Sr. was an entrepreneur who had his hand in a wide variety of business ventures during the mid-20th century. In 1947, he founded Ball’s Industrial Institute, the first Black trade school for WWII veterans, in a building he had erected on Lake Charles’ north side. When those services were no longer needed, he converted the school into an entertainment venue, Ball’s Auditorium, which became a mecca for top-notch Black entertainment in the 1950s to 1960s. He also opened Ball’s Café – the original Ball’s Fried Chicken – and Ball’s Hotel, Ball’s Apartments, Ball’s Tropicana, and Ball’s Drive-Inn. And don’t forget Pryce’s Pharmacy and Mayo’s Grocery, just to name a few! This legacy of entrepreneurship continues today with countless Black-owned businesses across the Lake Area and beyond. Here, we feature a small sample of the wide variety of businesses you’ll find in Southwest Louisiana.
The Griffith Financial Group
Tonya Griffith is a Senior Private Client Wealth Advisor at Wells Fargo Advisors with 23 years of experience in Lake Charles. Driven by a passion for helping the community achieve financial goals, her career journey began in 2001. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business marketing and is an accredited asset management specialist concentrating in wealth management, offering comprehensive services including investment allocation, wealth transference, insurance, and holistic financial planning.
Griffith offers clients an individualized approach to wealth management: She emphasizes the importance of tailor-made financial plans, recognizing that each client’s situation is unique. “I focus on understanding clients’ needs, goals, and expectations to develop effective financial strategies,” she says, acknowledging the evolving nature of financial planning and the need for adaptable strategies.
Her role as a fiduciary advisor requires her to ensure that each client’s interests are at the forefront, maintaining transparency and trust. “I involve my clients in the planning process, making sure they understand and agree with the proposed strategies,” Griffith says. “This commitment highlights the continuous nature of financial planning, adapting to changes in clients’ lives and financial landscapes.”
Griffith continues to be driven by a love for helping people and empowering them through financial literacy and management. She says her business goal is to be “a beacon of financial expertise and community support, especially during Black History Month.”
Griffith Financial Group is located at Walnut Grove. 2070 E. Walnut Suite 101, Lake Charles, Louisiana. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 337-794-8150.
Tasterite Jamaican Restaurant
Foodies and fans of delicious cuisine in general rejoiced last December when Tasterite Jamaican re-opened after a three-year hiatus. This tenacious business opened their new doors at 1850 N. Martin Luther King Hwy, Lake Charles. The new menu includes all the same goodness patrons came to know and love, with entrees such as jerk chicken and pork, goat curry, oxtails, and of course rice and beans, fried plantains, and more.
Tasterite is a family business, with Daemion Bailey as head chef, his wife, Heather Wade, assisting in the kitchen, and their two college-age kids tending to customers. They opened their original restaurant in a small, unassuming building on Opelousas St. in 2013. Three years later, they moved into a larger location on Kirkman St. Sadly, that site was destroyed by Hurricane Laura. Wade says they lost everything in the storm, but they were determined to revive Tasterite. “We are making the dream together.”
Wade says she and Daemion are proud of their Jamaican heritage and that pride shines through with dedicated attention to detail and quality ingredients in the dishes they serve. “Tasterite Jamaican Restaurant is extremely excited to be a part of this community and bring a little piece of the island to Lake Charles and surrounding areas.”
For more information, find Tasterite Jamaican Restaurant on Facebook.
F & S Trucking
F & S Trucking provides dump truck hauling for all types of construction projects within a 100-mile region of Lake Charles La. – from Beaumont, Tx. to Leesville, La. Established in 2015, the company is owned by Selena and Frank Clemons. They provide services to contractors and developers on large-scale projects, such as I-10 interstate and pipeline construction; and they also provide services for smaller homeowner projects. “We haul aggregates, topsoil, fill dirt, asphalt, milling, sand, demolishing, broken concrete, and most things in between,” says Frank.
The couple started their company because they saw a shortage of large capacity dump trucks in the area. “Southwest Louisiana has a history of plant expansion and area growth,” Frank explains. “We talked with the SWLA Chamber of Commerce, noting local LNG Plant expansion, I-10 Hwy. lane addition, possibly a new bridge to be constructed. Housing construction is on the rise, as well as demolition needs. New schools need to be built. We desired to capture an opportunity to subsidize our income and possibly start a small business venture for our family’s next generation. We purchased one new truck in 2015, then another in 2019. In November 2023 we added two additional 2024 models. We decided the time to grow is now.”
Selena serves as the company’s CEO and Frank is the Manager. He says F & S Trucking is committed to providing customers with the highest quality of service, always keeping safety in mind. “We work for you and your satisfaction is of the upmost importance.”
Frank says they plan to add more trucks to their fleet and hire more staff as demand dictates. “We want to create an environment where all employees feel significant and know they work at a place where safety is emphasized and people care.”
The Clemons encourage dump truck drivers with two or more years of experience to join their team. Contact them at 337-496-3764 or see their website, www.fandstrucking.com.
Diversity Hair Salon & Spa
Amanda Moore owns and operates Diversity Hair Salon & Spa. Her career journey began at Stage One The Hair School in 2013. She returned to Stage One as an instructor in 2016 and continues in that role today. From 2014-2021, Moore also worked consecutively at the salons in JCPenney and Ulta.
Moore opened Diversity Hair Salon at 608 W. McNeese St in 2021. She says her motivation for opening her own shop was the need for inclusivity. “Many salons cater to only one demographic. My vision was to create a space for everyone regardless of hair texture, skin tone and skin type.” In addition to cutting and styling hair, Moore is an esthetician and cosmetologist. Her services include steam treatments, hair coloring services, protective styles, custom facials, eyelash extensions, and full body sugaring.
Moore’s client, Austin Rains, first met her while she was working at JCPenney. “Our connection ignited from the moment I sat in her chair,” Rains says. He followed her throughout her career and has been a loyal customer for nearly a decade. “Not only is she an extremely talented cosmetologist who gets it done right every time, she is also one of the kindest people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. As long as she is still in Lake Charles, she will continue to have my support.”
To make an appointment at Diversity Hair Salon and Spa, call 337-292-0817.