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HBCU Grad Opens First Grocery Outlet In North Philly

HBCU Grad Opens First Grocery Outlet In North Philly

He's giving back to the community in a major way!

A North Philadelphia native opens the first Grocery Outlet in his family's old neighborhood, The Inquirer reports.

Donta Rose studied engineering at Morgan State University, parlaying his skills into a solid career designing stores for Grocery Outlet, a California-based franchise that offers discount groceries. The company was rapidly expanding into the Philadelphia area and Rose saw that one of the future stores was going to be located in the Sharswood section of North Philadelphia where his mother is from. The 28-year-old seized the opportunity. 

“That's where we’re from. I know the neighborhood. I know how unique this neighborhood is, because if you go four blocks over, you’re on Temple’s campus, and if you go five blocks down, you’re in Brewerytown. It became really important for me to be in a community that we’re familiar with,” Rose explained. 



That’s when he decided he wanted to become an owner of one of these stores he was designing, pulling together his savings and a loan to buy in. On July 26th, Rose cut the ribbon of the new $5 million Grocery Outlet in his hometown which is the first in a long list of businesses aimed at reviving the area. 

The Outlet is a fully functioning grocer complete with meats, dairy, produce, and frozen food. The groceries are name brands, the selections are just randomized with the stores being stocked with manufacturer overstocks and closeouts. Grocery Outlet now has over 400 stores across the country and Rose said the fresh food is delivered four days a week, something that’s critical for the community he is serving. 

“The major thing for this neighborhood. As a kid, there was never any grocery stores where you would buy fresh produce nearby,” he explained. 

While Rose grew up mainly in Gloucester County, New Jersey, his mother grew up right on Woodstock Street in the Philadelphia neighborhood and his family has close ties to the city. When Rose was younger, he used to clean tables at his grandparents' Littleton’s Diner in East Oak Lane. While Rose is the official owner, he’s committed to making it a family business that’s deeply rooted in the community. His sister Toni and friend Nafis Muhammed have already been hired to manage the grocer and they have hired the majority of the 30-person staff from the neighborhood. 

“While we want to be a successful business, we also want to be connected to the community. You know what’s going on in Philadelphia. You know how there’s so much crime and so much violence and so many people taking it out on each other instead of building within each other. That’s why we’re here - not to say, ‘We have a grocery store’ but we want the community to know that we are from here,” said Melanie Rose, Donta’s mother. 

Rose said he intends to deliver on his end of the bargain, keeping the community first and making sure he keeps it all in the family. 

“I’m not from this rich family that gave me this. I worked hard. My name is on the loan and my face might be on [the in-store signage}, but my mom is going to be with me. My dad is actually out running right now…My sisters are with me. So it’s definitely going to be a family business, for sure,” he said. 

Congratulations Rose Family! We can’t wait to support!

Jose F. Moreno/The Inquirer