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United By Flavor: Underground Cafe + Lounge Brings Roxbury Community and Northeastern University Students Together

September 27, 2021

Topics in this Article:
Giving Back

American Campus Communities (ACC), Northeastern University partner with Roxbury Restaurateur on New Fast Casual Restaurant Celebrating Neighborhood’s Culinary Culture

Nia Grace, award-winning owner of Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen and co-founder of the Boston Black Hospitality Coalition, brings a new casual dining concept called The Underground Cafe + Lounge to Northeastern University students and Roxbury residents thanks to a collaboration with ACC and Northeastern University.
The Underground Cafe + Lounge is the first effort of ACC’s’ new Neighborhood Business Nurturing Program, which helps bolster and support small, local businesses particularly those owned by women and minorities. It is located at 742 Columbus Ave as a retail space at the entrance of LightView, a student apartment community owned and managed by ACC. 082521_MM_Underground_024.jpeg

“The concept for The Underground Cafe + Lounge came from being rooted in culture, inspired by the community, and united by flavor,” said Grace. “Roxbury is my home; it’s where I grew up and I am proud to work with the citizens of this vibrant neighborhood and with Northeastern and ACC to provide a welcoming environment and freshly-prepared, quick service soul food at affordable prices.” 
The new restaurant will offer a variety of scratch-made dishes in a menu that was created with input from community members. Menu items include red velvet belgian waffles, pulled pork macaroni and cheese, garlic herb shrimp and arugula flatbread, and a variety of soulful vegetarian and vegan options. Grace has hand-picked some of her favorite local food and beverage producers to be on the menu including Fazenda Coffee Roasters and Boston Artisan Breads. 
"Nia's love for our community and her determination to reinvigorate it while preserving what we all love about it really shines through with The Underground Cafe," said Rep. Chynah Tyler, a Roxbury State Representative and chair of the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus. “As a proud Northeastern alum, I encourage everyone to support this new concept as it is a shining example of what collaborative support can do for our communities and to help advance women and minority owned businesses in Boston.”
Dedicated to creating culturally rich spaces while always actively looking for ways to help her community, Grace named the space to pay homage to Harriet Tubman’s underground railroad that intersects that true passage with a higher calling of freedom. It sits right next to the orange rail line, which serves as an intersection for all of Boston. Grace says it is a perfect place for bringing together all walks of life, and that there’s an underlying rich history of overcoming struggle and adversity.

DSC_4640.jpegAt the grand opening ceremony on Monday evening, Mayor Kim Janey said “Thank you to Nia, Northeastern, American Campus Communities and all who made this opening possible. This is what we’re hungry for: places where we can come together to convene and meet, work and play, enjoy the arts and celebrate each other. It’s so important that we support The Underground and other Black-, women-, and immigrant-owned-businesses. I am so grateful to be able to play a role in Boston’s recovery and put us on the path forward.
Additional vibrancy to the space will come from a rotating exhibition space for Artists for Humanity, and will host live music and other forms of entertainment to evoke the same kind of spirit and hospitality that guests at Grace’s other restaurant, Darryl’s, have enjoyed. The Underground will also be a welcome event space to the neighborhood and can be booked for special events and gatherings. 

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