January 4, 2021

A Homecoming for Jackson’s Catfish Corner

Seattle, Washington

A Homecoming for Jackson’s Catfish Corner

“It means everything to me … to be open on Jackson Street and to come back to the Central District where we belong … where we started at.” Terrell Jackson, owner of Jackson’s Catfish Corner
Terrell Jackson grew up working in his grandparents’ restaurant, Catfish Corner, a much-beloved fixture of Seattle’s historically African American Central District. In 2008, after more than 20 years, the restaurant, like many Black-owned businesses in the Central District, was displaced and Terrell’s grandparents retired. In 2019 Terrell revived the business, cooking at pop-ups and opening a Catfish Corner Express. All the while, he was working toward his dream of finding a permanent home for the restaurant in the Central District.

To do so, however, would be expensive and Terrell’s business would not be able to finance the full cost. Terrell was referred by a business development program at Seattle University and, over more than a year, Craft3 worked with him, first as an advisor and connector to resources and grant capital, and eventually to underwrite a working capital loan that let him open for business in a new long-term home, not far from where his grandparents served up catfish and other southern dishes.

Past credit challenges and limited assets made Terrell unable to obtain bank financing. Craft3 coached Terrell to help him rebuild his credit, advised him on the amount of debt his business could afford, and connected him with a professional bookkeeper. Craft3 also used underwriting proxies to replace typical credit standards that are likely to disadvantage entrepreneurs of color due to systemic racism and its effects, factors such as the racial wealth gap.

When Community House, a local non-profit, approached Terrell to be their anchor commercial tenant in a new mixed-use building in the Central District, it was a great opportunity. Assembling the capital and the coalition of partners took time and Craft3 played a central role. The project was supported by funding supports from the City of Seattle, King County’s Communities of Opportunity Commercial Affordability Pilot, as well as a substantial and generous tenant improvement allowance.

The ribbon cutting ceremony on Juneteenth 2021 was a festive community event. Community members and elected officials celebrated the restaurant’s return to the Central District with catfish and champagne. With a 15-year lease, and two options to renew for additional five-year periods, Terrell’s restaurant has a long-term, rent-stabilized home and he can concentrate on cooking.