For 20 years, Tomeka Crawford worked in banking, while dreaming of opening her own restaurant.
“I knew that I needed an education if I was going to realize my dream,” she recalls.
That was a tall order for the Kent County woman, who already was working full time and raising a family. Then she discovered Wilmington University, which offered her the opportunity to take classes online, as well as in person at WilmU’s Dover Campus and Dover Air Force Base.
“Wilmington University worked hand in glove with me. The flexibility made it easy for me to say yes,” Crawford says.
In 2018, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership from the College of Business. Crawford says her college experience provided her with the skills and knowledge to grow her fledging side gig as a vendor at a farmer’s market to Tomeka’s Homestyle Eatery, a brick-and-mortar soul food restaurant and catering business on East Lebanon Road in Dover.
“I learned how to organize, plan, and define a business. Accounting class taught me how to create a balance sheet,” she says.
“Wilmington University worked hand in glove with me. The flexibility made it easy for me to say yes.” — Tomeka Crawford
Today, Tomeka’s Homestyle Eatery is thriving. Crawford says the organizational skills she learned at WilmU helped her enhance the flow from the front of the house to the back of the house. To adhere to COVID-19 social-distancing mandates, she refined her business plan to serving cafeteria-style, a format she decided to retain.
“I originally planned to offer table service, but cafeteria-style works much better for us,” she says.
She defined her brand with an emphasis on serving food with love and cooking with fresh ingredients.
“We cut up our own yams. It’s all fresh, not processed food,” she says.
She’s living her dream as an entrepreneur and is sharing the message that a good education helps dreams come true.
“As my children see me rise up, it’s inspiration for them,” she says. “I would not be as successful as I am without my Wilmington University education.”
— Eileen Smith Dallabrida