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There is a shop – and a couple – in Whitaker that feed the soul of the church in more ways than one. Kamahlai and Maurice Stewart, owners of House of Soul Catering, have now been open for nearly three years and their commitment to fine dining and charitable work has won through from the start.
Kamahlai Stewart, a native of Washington, DC, who has lived and loved in Pittsburgh since 1997, has found a second life through this catering business.
“I worked for an immigration law firm and my passion was cooking. I’ve been to baby showers, family reunions on the side … My husband said that since I wasn’t happy, why don’t you step back and do your catering business? “
They found a stationary location in April, renovated it in May, and opened it on July 14, 2018. Since then, the company has fed almost everyone, even the Pittsburgh Steelers. Covid-19 has changed its business significantly – according to Kamahlai Stewart, “before the pandemic … it was 80 percent catering, 20 percent take-out, during the pandemic it turned the other way” – but it was also a ” A blessing and a curse “in reaching more customers near and even far away like New York and Ohio.
Kamahlai’s food is the soul of the business, but her husband is an integral part of what makes House of Soul successful in the community.
“Maurice is always the one who is really very important for us to feed people. He’s the face behind the mask, he’s the one who thinks outside the box all the time, ”Stewart said. The two have been married for three years and work together to ensure that their ward has as many blessings as they can offer.
House of Soul works with the Learn and Earn program to hire teenagers, teach them skills, and find a place to go after school and during the summer.
“We had about 12 kids, and right now we have four kids who started out and are still with us,” said Stewart. They even currently have a 16 year old worker who is so passionate about their job that he is aiming for a culinary degree. Stewart is very proud of this development and notes, “We want it to be a passion for her. This could be a career for her. “
The stewarts do what they do best too – they provide good food to communities that need it most. Even before they opened a stationary location for their catering business, they were feeding the homeless and needy members of the community. Now they are making it an integral part of their business. Stewart says Maurice is often sure to bring out food for those who need it on Mondays when the store is closed. They also donate food and manufacture and run clothing rides at their business location.
“We try once a month or quarterly, we have a box up there and we ask our guests to donate shoes, jackets and things like that. Then we have people who need things that come up and choose what they want.” Stewart said.
They also focus their philanthropy on specific families around them. The Stewarts “adopted” a family over Christmas, as they try every year. That year the family consisted of a new father and five children whose mother had recently passed away.
“It warmed our hearts to be able to give them something; We bought them clothes, shoes, toys, cooked and sent rent to help them a little. It was a really good feeling, ”said Stewart.
For this couple, giving is part of who they are, even if it’s not that easy to own a small business and give for good at the same time. Stewart sees being part of a community she loves as an important part.
“To get a blessing, you have to be a blessing. When we give, we know we will receive blessings. We always try to give to people who are less well off. We always want for our brothers and sisters what we want for ourselves. If you need a shirt, if I have an extra shirt, I’ll give it to you. “
She hopes to give more going in the future and is considering a run as Munhall councilor to make a bigger impact. She also hopes to grow her business and create a culinary arts program for the community’s youth, as well as for recently incarcerated and homeless people, to give the area a better future.
Homestead | South Hills record