When a Restaurant Job was Divinely Ordered

Jun 23, 2016

Enjoli Moon is the founder and creative director of the Afrikana Independent Film Festival, which is in its third year and which brings filmmakers to Richmond from all over the world. But Moon doesn't come from the filmmaking world. In this week's segment, she shares her memories of a Richmond restaurant that inspired her to create something new and different in the city.

 

 

“I always say that Croaker’s Spot was divinely ordered in my life. I started on the very first day, April 9th, 2001, and started as a waitress, and I literally just fell in love with everything: the people who were coming, the employees, the food that we were serving, our mission to connect with the community in a different kind of way. It was just where I was supposed to be at the time, and it literally changed my life.

Enjoli Moon on 2nd Street in the Jackson Ward neighborhood of Richmond | Photo by Michael K. Lease

“We had about 12 tables, we could seat about 40 people, it was tight, we had a really small kitchen, and we were tremendously busy all of the time. People just barreled into that restaurant every day. It was amazing. It was this real celebration of black culture—historic black culture—done in a really tasteful manner, which is something that we didn’t get to see a lot, especially here in Richmond, at food establishments, just because of sometimes the lack of resource, accessibility, that sort of thing.

“So Neverett Eggleston III—he’s the owner of Croaker’s Spot—was able to put together something really special with maintaining some of the historic beauty by keeping the original pieces of the bar, so he was very mindful about capturing the essence of yesteryear. People felt it when they walked in, and then there was a warmth to the people, from the employees to the customers, which is a kindredness there. It opened my mind to what black creative excellence can achieve.

“You know, I was 20 when I started at Croaker’s. To be around that from the ages of 20 to 30 every day of my life and to see how you use your mind to create a concept and then you dig your heels in to see it come to life was... it was inspirational. And so I began to look at life through a different lens, but it also let me know I could do whatever I wanna do. There are no rules, I can just do what I wanna do, and I’ve just been kinda flowing like that.

 

“It’s interesting, I don’t have a background in film at all, other than just liking them, but I’ve never made films or anything. But I was making these plans to go to all these black film festivals in other cities, and I was like, ‘why in the world don’t we have one?’

“I honestly believe Richmond, and not just black Richmond, mean Richmond—creative Richmond—is ready for stories, a multitude of stories, from people of color from around the world. You know, I think people are ready to have their worlds broadened any opportunity they can get. And so we’ll give them this one.”