Owners of Seattle’s Island Soul rally community to help open Caribbean soul restaurant on the Eastside

Owners Theo and Gaelyn Martin turn to Kickstarter to crowdfund their restaurant Arleana’s in Kirkland

Dish from Arleana’s (photo credit: Kat Young)

Dish from Arleana’s (photo credit: Kat Young)

Owners of Island Soul Rum Bar & Soul Shack in Columbia City, Theo and Gaelyn Martin, are taking an unconventional approach to fund their new restaurant by calling for the community to pitch in.

The Martins’ new family restaurant “Arleana’s” is slated to open summer of 2022 in the Kirkland waterfront area. To make up for a $291,000 gap that small business loans and landlord allotment didn’t cover, they have set up a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that runs through December 10, 2021. In its first day alone, the campaign collected $14,942 in pledges, bringing them 23 percent of the way to reach their $50,0000 goal. The kickstarter page can be found here.

The Kickstarter reward tiers feature collaboration with local artists including Feed the People founder and chef Tarik Abdullah, Island Soul executive chef Byrce Martin, and Seattle graphic artist Kat Young who all worked together to develop seasonings, recipes, T-shirts, and dining experience packages that range from $25 to $10,000 reward levels. Their hope is to surpass the $50,000 funding goal, but with Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing model that means they won’t get a cent unless they reach their goal.

“It’s a very tough time to borrow money from the bank as a Black business owner,” said Theo Martin. “And yet during COVID times, a lot of people are reaching out to us saying that they don’t want to see our food go away.”

The National Bureau of Economic Research found that 41% of Black-owned businesses closed last year between February and April as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. The Martins now hope to lean back on their community as they encounter unexpected COVID delays and supply chain cost hikes in months leading up to Arleana’s opening.

“We’re asking people to be a part of this,” said Theo Martin in his video to the community. “We want you to be a part of it.”


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