I have said it before, one of the best things about Concord is our wonderfully diverse community. In honor of Black History Month, I would like to shine a spotlight on some of our own amazing movers and shakers who make our city a better place to live every day.
Keith Burks: Investing in Concord Through Business and Community Service
Already leaving an indelible imprint on the Concord community is Keith Burks, co-owner of the popular Concord Tap House, which opened in midtown in 2018, as well as the nearby Frickin’ Fried, a new venture that he and his son Myles launched in October 2021.
Besides his businesses, Burks is deeply involved in all facets of the local community, and especially with Concord’s youth, having raised his own kids here. “I’m, not just a businessman,” he explained. “I go to church here, I live here, I work here, I invest here.” It doesn’t take long talking to Burks to understand that he is the perfect combination of an optimist and a “doer.”
When COVID hit in 2020 – bringing unprecedented challenges to his own business – Burks not only found ways to adapt the operations of his own restaurant, but he also immediately thought of ways to feed the community’s first responders as well as the homeless. He has also more recently stepped up by using the Concord Tap House to help raise money for Afghan refugees entering the community.
Chelsea Davis: Seeking Justice for Victims of Domestic Violence
For Chelsea Davis, justice is an everyday endeavor. A recent graduate of UC Berkeley School of Law, she manages two legal services programs at Concord’s Family Justice Center that help families affected by domestic violence. One program connects victims with pro bono lawyers who can assist with obtaining restraining orders, and the other coordinates free, on-site legal consultations.
In these most challenging of times, Davis and her colleagues at the Family Justice Center are providing a one-stop-shop where victims can safely access a wide array of services – from housing and employment assistance to trauma recovery and otherwise unaffordable legal aid that includes accompanying women to their restraining order court appointments.
Davis, who loves to travel and even has a travel blog to share her stories and beautiful photography, started her legal career doing litigation in San Francisco. But her heart was in public service, a tug that led her to the Family Justice Center. She has only been there a year but talked about the ongoing need for these services in the Concord community.
Jacqueline Smith: Giving Children and Families a Head Start
Like Davis, Jacqueline Smith is another woman of color doing remarkable work to support social equity and community vitality in Concord. Her title alone at the Unity Council – Family and Community Partnerships & Home-Based Coordinator – gives you an idea of the sheer magnitude of her responsibility.
Through in-house resources and deep community partnerships that Smith nurtures, the Unity Council in Concord sets families with limited means on a path to success by offering services that extend from pre-natal assistance to senior care.
The community members served by the Unity Council represent 16 different languages and a wide variety of backgrounds, mostly Hispanic, but also Middle Eastern, African American, and biracial. It is important, according to Smith, that no matter who they are or what their background is, they have a positive experience.
Karen Bell: Co-founder Lettuce Inn for Healthy Dining
It was once reported that Karen Bell has established a fresh food healthy eating haven downtown. The Lettuce Inn was founded in 2011 with the aim of serving healthy meals into people’s workday, with delicious salads, sandwich wraps, soups and even pies. They serve food comprised of many of the superfoods so essential to good health for all dietary needs: paleo, vegetarian, vegan, raw-vegan, low-histamine, gluten, nut or dairy free diets and everything in between.
Bell grew up loving salads. She shares her inspiration on the Lettuce Inn website.
“I used to tell my family that someday I would open a shop that served healthy salads and call it “Lettuce In,” humored by the obvious pun. She did, but soon had to change the name to Lettuce Inn due to a trademark infringement complaint.
Nevertheless, Lettuce Inn has been a staple to the Downtown Concord dining experience for the past 10 years.
Prior to opening Lettuce Inn, Bell co-founded a school and was an educator for 23 years.
Melvin Thompson: Aquarian Era New Age Shop Feeds Your Soul for a Positive Life Path.
Melvin Thompson is busy spreading Good Vibes. Thompson says he’s always been an entrepreneur. He now owns the Aquarian Era New Age Shop on Main Ave. in Concord and recently added a second store in Richmond. The stores specialize in stones crystals, gems and other items designed to heal the soul. The idea came to him as far back as 2010 when he sold such items at the flea market. When he came across people who seemed to have lost their way, he would give them positive advice, hope, and free stones. Many said it really helped them, so he decided to open the store in 2017.
Stay in Concord
If you have family or friends coming to town, Visit Concord offers fun Stay & Play Packages with your confirmed reservation at any of our nine hotels. Themed packages are filled with goodies like local gift cards, restaurant coupons and wearables. For more information, go to VisitConcordCA.com.
The Concord Visitor Center is located at 2151 Salvio Street, Suite T in Concord. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 925-685-1182. Website: www.visitconcordca.com.