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Pitch Black finalist: Okra African Grill

Posted at 10:38 AM, Jul 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-18 11:38:45-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Pitch Black announced its top five finalists for its business competition.

Designed to promote entrepreneurship, the competition features local minority-owned businesses competing for a chance to win $10,000.

On KMTV, we'll be featuring each of those five finalists.

For the first feature, 3 News Now's Alyssa Curtis focuses on Okra Africa Grill and what the owner of one of Omaha's only African restaurants would do with the money.

"African culture is really big on food anyway we socialize and gather around food," said Okra African Grill owner Nina Sodji.

When Sodji came to Omaha from Togo 30 years ago, she realized there were almost no opportunities for Omaha to share community while enjoying African cuisine.

Originally a nurse, with cooking experience passed down from generations, Sodji decided to try her hand at expanding Omaha's palette. But it only lasted a few years.

"What did I do wrong then, that I didn't quite get? And a friend of mine suggested I go to culinary school," said Sodji.

She combined her newly found culinary skills with her Togolese roots and opened Okra African Grill in 2020.

A place where you not only get a delicious meal, but also education.

"People don't know what it is, people are a bit scared of it, and that kind of thing. And I keep thinking, we have the most delicious food out there, so how can I be able to put that out there and make it more inviting for everyone to come?" said Sodji.

Opening days before the pandemic began led to some hurdles.

"I'm a true believer that if you work hard and believe in what you do really, God will help you get there. This is a labor of love," said Sodji.

Okra African Grill recently moved to a new location on 72nd and Jones Streets. They're hoping to use the winnings from Pitch Black to market themselves and their new spot.

"Really want to bring all the people back, I really want to do some billboards, be able to do busses, stop signs, social media, really hire good videographers to do taping," said Sodji.

She hopes that marketing is another step to making her dream come true.

"I always been saying almost 10 yeas ago, I want to become as big as Goya," said Sodji.

Okra African Grill is open every day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Pitch Black's final presentations will be held Saturday, August 6.

To learn more about the competition, visit this website.

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