Despite obstacles from the coronavirus pandemic altering the course of her food business, Charisse McGill has become the first Black woman in the state of Pennsylvania with a signature beer by adapting her famous french toast bites into a delicious brew.
After establishing her french toast bites as a popular treat at different festivals and fairs around the state, the coronavirus pandemic threatened to completely change how she counducted her buisness. Instead of panicking, McGill, owner of Lokal Artisan Foods, fixed her mind on new business ventures.
As conversations about racial justice and systemic injustices gripped the country, McGill said her supporters rallied around her to support her endeavor of merging the breakfast bites with beer, ABC 6’s Localish reports.
“We pour the bites into the mesh and the spice gets extracted straight from those bites,” she said. “They love it because they think it’s going to be stouty or desert beer, but I say no, it’s an anytime ale. You can have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, you can have it with anything.”
McGill said the opportunity to make a beer came at a time when she “didn’t know what business was going to be in 2020,” she recalled, anticipating the aftermath of the pandemic.
“In my world, no events, no people, no business,” she said.
Joe Modestine, owner of Doylestown Brewing Company, reached out to her about collaborating her bites with his beer brand, and McGill said she couldn’t get to his office fast enough to talk about developing the idea for french toast bites ale.
“We talked about a couple different iterations,” she said. “We knew we didn’t not want it to be a desert beer, because you’re kind of like one-and-done. We wanted it to be an anytime ale.”
McGill revealed she never would have imagined creating a french toast beer, but she said its success is due to her innovative thinking and understanding of a changing marketplace.
“Beer was deemed essential during the pandemic,” McGill said.
She added that the accomplishment of being the first Black woman to have a signature beer highlights her purpose to knock down doors and break glass barriers.
In the summer of 2020, McGill, no stranger to firsts, became the first Black woman vendor to operate a food establishment at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia, a vibrant tourist area that opened nearly six years ago.
“It’s definitely an accomplishment,” McGill said, according to the Philadelphia Tribune. “I think it speaks to my purpose to be a trailblazer and continue to be an inspiration to others and food operators and chefs in the space because we don’t see a lot of ourselves in the top tourist attractions in Philadelphia.”
Moving to the park put the Temple University grad and her business on Modestine’s radar. Since then, McGill has been spending time at the brewery and growing her knowledge about the beer industry, the Philly Tribune reports.
“I think it’s a fun project,” Modestine said. “We’re just excited to get it going and see how well it does.”
When it comes to keeping her business afloat during the outbreak, McGill said the key has been partnerships. With the pandemic looming last year, she teamed up with Tamekah Bost, who owns The Better Box, to add her french toast bites to the app’s dessert menu.
“The whole thing to this has been the partnerships. They are definitely more valuable than money,” she said.