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More than 50 local businesses cater Pharrell's Mighty Dream Forum

The event was catered by dozens of local restaurants and eateries, shining a light on restaurants across Hampton Roads.
Credit: WVEC

NORFOLK, Va. — There was entertainment. There were panel discussions. And there was food. Lots of it.

Pharrell Williams' "Mighty Dream Forum" aimed to uplift local businesses in more ways than one. Over three days in Norfolk's NEON District, the event hosted more than 50 local caterers, shining a light on restaurants across Hampton Roads.

Pastries from the Pink Dinghy, pork biscuits from Sonny's Heart, acai bowls from Zeke's Beans & Bowls, S'mores Brownies from S'mores Amore and a giant Mighty Dream-themed cake from The Stockpot were just a few of the delicious food offerings.

Credit: The Stockpot

"It's just huge that we get to participate in something like [Mighty Dream] because small businesses really do matter," said Alex Greagori, the assistant general manager at The Stockpot restaurant in Norfolk.

Some business owners hope the event will bring the Norfolk community closer together, amid the rising violence downtown in recent months.

RELATED: 'I don't like it': Pharrell addresses city's crackdown on Downtown Norfolk businesses

"With everything that's been going on, it's been a rough run for this city and hopefully, [Mighty Dream] went pretty far in starting to heal some of that and bring people together," said Willson Craigie, owner of Commune restaurant in Norfolk. 

Brad Ewing, co-founder of Three Ships Coffee Roasters, said the forum has been inspiring. 

"Being a white male, I actually feel extremely privileged to be here and be able to hear the stories and understand how I can be a little bit more compassionate and understanding," Ewing said.

Ticketholders experienced a five-star yet family-style atmosphere on Thursday night. Dinner with a Purpose featured familiar names like Pendulum, The Veil, Smartmouth and 1865 Brewing Company.

13News Now caught up with the owner of Hummingbird Dessert Boutique. Kisha Moore has provided desserts for multiple events at the forum, including Thursday night’s dinner.

"Just seeing the energy of people in the area, the city and seeing what we can do, especially for the BIPOC community and so many small businesses like My Mama's Kitchen, Alkaline, just to name a few that have really partnered in making this endeavor. And Commune bringing that together in the culinary scene," Moore said. 

For Kevin Ordonez, chef-owner of Alkaline restaurant, catering the event was about much more than just bolstering his business. 

"I'm obviously always hoping to boost business but that's not our goal here," Ordonez said. "I think our goal aligns with the entire mentality of this forum... We're here to be a voice for people like myself, a minority like myself, and to show diversity, and community, and be part of something bigger than ourselves."

Moreover, business owners voiced excitement for Pharrell's "Something in the Water" festival to return to Virginia Beach in 2023.

"Depending on where they locate it, I think we'll be right in the heart of it," Ewing said.

"It's super exciting that it's going to be back next year and hopefully, we'll be able to play a part in it," Craigie said.

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