The Philosophy behind Ida B’s Table

Ida B. Wells…not a name everyone may know. However, hers is a story worth knowing. She was a firebrand and an outspoken, brave pioneering journalist, suffragist, and anti-lynching activist who fought for racial and gender justice in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) is the inspiration behind a new Baltimore restaurant: Ida B’s Table, scheduled to open September 23.

Food for the soul…
Ida B’s will be a modern soul food restaurant that focuses on sourcing local products, with a preference for non-GMO foods, organically grown, and “at the height of their seasonal freshness.” Tonya Thomas, wife and longtime business partner of Chef David Thomas, is the general manager of Ida B’s Table. David Thomas is the chef previously behind Herb & Soul Cafe in Parkville, along with a corresponding truck. Tonya and David Thomas have been working together as a team for almost 25 years. Tonya Thomas will manage the front of the house and is responsible for baked goods and desserts. They share a common bond for the love of food, family, cultural heritage, food sustainability and strengthening bonds in the community. There will be a beer, wine, and cocktail program, developed by Chelsea Gregoire, the consultant behind Drinkable Genius. There will also be a full coffee program with custom house blends.
This new restaurant, only blocks from Baltimore’s City Hall in the landmark CJ Youse Candy Box Factory, will offer breakfast, lunch, and small plates during happy hour on the weekdays, with weekend service extending from brunch through dinner. Also on the menu, an array of prepared take-away foods for the busy lunch hour, including daily sandwiches and hearty salads.

Imagine these dishes, if you will…
Dirty South Frittata, an eggy delight with blackened chicken breast, roasted red peppers, onions, kale, dirty rice, and a little smoked gouda. Another choice: Breakfast Boudin (“Boo-Dan”), Cajun-style loose sausage, topped with Rastafarmi Farm fried egg with pimento cheese — all served on a warm croissant. And, of course, there is the classic Shrimp & Grits…classic for a reason. Ida B.’s version features head-on shrimp and Anson Mills grits, with local cheddar in a Creole cream sauce, and garnished with pork belly croutons. Curry Catfish, local and sustainably-sourced blue catfish, pan-seared and glazed with a sweet curry sauce, served with “Hoppin’ John” and butterbean succotash.
The 6,000-square-foot restaurant will seat between 160 and 190 patrons in its bar, dining room, private dining room, and parlor room. Ida B.’s Table will also house a stage for live music on weekends.

How did the restaurant get its name?
Ida B’s Table is underwritten, in part, by The Real News Network (TRNN), a non-profit, viewer-supported daily video news and documentary service. “I can’t take credit for calling the restaurant Ida B’s,” says David Thomas. TRNN “is an organization of activism,” he continues, “and Ida B. launched her career as an activist…so the name made perfect sense.” Part and parcel in the development of Ida B’s Table is the commitment to offering a living wage and benefits. The restaurant’s motto is, “At our table, there’s a seat for everyone!” Ida B. Wells would, no doubt, be delighted about that!

Where: 235 Holliday Street, Baltimore, MD 21202, 410-844-0444,,

About the Author

DARA BUNJON: Dara Does It – Creative Solutions for the Food Industry offers public relations, social media training, administration, freelance writing, marketing, and more. Contact Dara at 410-486-0339, or visit, Twitter and Instagram: @daracooks. Listen to her Dining Dish radio program on Baltimore Internet Radio.

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