Born in Sunflower, Mississippi, DaQuandria Chillis has fond memories of growing up in her grandmother’s kitchen. Her passion for feeding others can be traced back to that kitchen, and she knows that experience is at the heart of her journey to opening Trap House Kitchen in 2019. Since, the eatery has become a local favorite, and Chillis has continuously lent her passion and skillset to aiding in food insecurity issues facing our community.
A single mother to four beautiful children, Chillis is no stranger to working hard in order for others to succeed. This fact is made abundantly clear with her newest project, The Block Corpus Christi. With a deep-rooted belief in the power of community support and the transformative effect it can have on individuals and neighborhoods, The Block CC emphasizes Chillis’ commitment to uplifting those around her for the greater good.
KC: This year, you founded The Block Corpus Christi. Can you share what that project is?
DC: The Block Corpus Christi is a community-focused collective of small business owners who gathered to provide services and resources to our community. My vision for The Block CC was to foster growth, empowerment and positive change in our local community. It serves as a space for collaboration, resource sharing and advocacy, bringing together individuals, businesses and organizations to address social issues, support local initiatives and create a thriving community.
KC: What was the initial inspiration behind The Block CC?
DC: The Block CC was born out of a deep sense of responsibility to address the challenges faced by our community. I am a huge advocate of supporting local businesses. Witnessing the potential and talent within our neighborhood, I recognized the need for a centralized hub that could unite efforts, amplify voices and provide opportunities for growth and development. I envisioned a place where community members could come together to share ideas, support one another and collectively create a brighter future.
KC: Why is its presence so important in our community?
DC: The presence of The Block CC is crucial for several reasons. The Block CC is all about bringing back the culture of community — cookouts, music, friends and helping each other thrive and succeed. Not only does The Block CC provide a space for our community to gather, feel safe and obtain the services and resources they need, but it also serves as a catalyst for collaboration and resource mobilization, enabling community members to work together toward common goals. The Block CC cultivates a sense of pride, ownership and collective responsibility, encouraging community members to actively participate in shaping the future of our community.
KC: What are your goals with The Block CC as it continues to grow?
DC: Our primary goal is to expand our reach and impact within the community. We aim to establish The Block CC as a resource hub for not only gathering together but also establishing partnerships and initiatives that address systemic issues and provide sustainable solutions such as educational and skill-building programs. I also see The Block CC as a space for people to create, foster entrepreneurship and promote cultural enrichment. Ultimately, we envision The Block CC as a model for community development that can be replicated in other neighborhoods, creating a network of empowered communities.
KC: You’re also behind Trap House Kitchen (which won this year’s Best Soul Food category in The Local’s List). What have some of the challenges and triumphs of owning and running a local restaurant looked like to you?
DC: Owning and running Trap House Kitchen has been both challenging and rewarding. The challenges have included a lack of support, navigating the competitive restaurant industry, managing operational complexities and ensuring consistent quality while adapting to evolving customer preferences. However, the wins have been amazing, especially witnessing customers enjoy my food and building a loyal community of soul food supporters. Winning the Best Soul Food category in The Local’s List 2023 was a tremendous honor and a testament to our team’s dedication and passion for serving delicious soul food while continuing to give back to our community.
KC: Any future projects and/or initiatives you’d like to share?
DC: Looking ahead, I am excited to explore new opportunities for growth and community impact. The Block CC is focused on working on initiatives such as community events to provide opportunities for other local businesses as they continue to grow. Additionally, with our partnership with Esperanza de Tejas, we will be holding pop-ups to provide resources to our underserved communities and exploring partnerships with other local organizations to provide opportunities to give back. The goal is to lead by example by bringing people together to invest in, give back and create positive change for the members of our community.