The warm smile that greets you at the door of Jacob Restaurant just might belong to the owner himself, Rachid Niang. Most days, Rachid is the first one in and the last one out, of Harlem’s newest, family-friendly soul food and salad bar. “A proper greeting is very important. It sets the tone for the dining experience,” says Rachid, who worked for a Harlem soul food restaurant business, long before opening his own. No task is too big or small for Rachid. From its daily inspections of ingredients to insure freshness, to occasionally working on the register, or a grill, when someone calls in sick Rachid is committed to making Jacob Restaurant a destination for quality, affordable dining.
As the brain trust of the family operation enterprise, the young, charismatic Senegalese owner, at age 33, opened his establishment, surprisingly, with his distinction of delighting guests. Though named after his father the late, Jacob Niang, Rachid was 22 years old, when he arrived in Harlem, after graduating from college in France.
During Mr. Niang’s second year of employment at a nearby Harlem area soul food and salad bar, he met his young, hardworking, ambitious, but conservative, future wife. At age 22, Kim, a Trinidadian, had recently arrived in New York, before she started working at their former employer’s restaurant. Eight years later and married to Kim, for seven years, following extensive research, planning, and financing Rachid incorporated Jacob Restaurant. Coincidentally, after his wife left the other restaurant, because it closed, when her husband opened Jacob Restaurant Soul Food and Salad Bar, Mrs. Niang quickly assumed management responsibilities for their new family enterprise.