Celebrate the Flavors of Africa and the African Diaspora with LATHA in Heritage Square

Evelia Davis and The Diaspora Collective are currently in the process of taking over the restaurant space at Silva House.
Celebrate the Flavors of Africa and the African Diaspora with LATHA in Heritage Square
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Renovations are underway to premiere LATHA, a new restaurant and bar run by The Diaspora Collective’s founder Evelia Davis, according to a permit filed on January 5 and confirmed by Davis in a phone interview with What Now Phoenix. It will inhabit the Silva House at Heritage Square, with a targeted opening at the end of February 2023. 

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After spending 30 years working in corporate America, entrepreneur Evelia Davis created her vision of what community and sharing culture can mean through food, goods, and a gathering place. She underwent the We Rise Accelerator Program with Local First Arizona to accomplish these goals. This six-month commitment to new Black entrepreneurs gives them the mentorship and practical skills needed to join the growing list of Arizona’s successful businesses. 

LATHA will serve a menu from African, Brazilian, Caribbean, and Southern US food traditions and pledges to source local ingredients and collaborate with vendors who uphold ethical practices. Their bar will highlight spirits, wine, and beer that are Black-owned or developed.

Yet this exciting new restaurant and bar are only one of three new businesses Davis and The Diaspora Collective will unveil in 2023. The Heritage Center will soon house a retail market (Soko) and community space (Jamaii).

“It’s really a unique opportunity for people to come and really experience the food, the drinks, the culture of Africa and the African Diaspora in a sort of immersive way,” Davis told What Now Phoenix on the phone. “The city of Phoenix has a lot of diversity in its restaurants, but I think we’re offering something that’s unique in both the food and the experience.”

One aspect of its unique experience is that when you visit, you aren’t just a customer but can become an ambassador. An ambassador, in this case, refers to the people who visit and become a part of the collective. “I’m calling them ambassadors for Africa and the African Diaspora because they are furthering our mission,” Davis continues. “The mission is really just around celebrating Africa, and they’re helping advocate and tell the best stories…You can be an ambassador by coming to the restaurant or buying a ticket, investing or donating, and then experiencing and telling someone about it!”

Demolition started in November, and The Silva House underwent a fresh paint job the following month. Their January permit includes a new shade structure on the patio, new pavers, and a railing arch, plus architecture, electricity, and plumbing upgrades.

Davis worked with the Katz Design Group on creating a space that would transport people and have significant influences from Africa to elevate the experience, such as a six-foot representation of the continent that greets people at the entryway.

She explains their intent: “Every time someone walks in the door, we are attempting to recreate an experience that I had when I first went to Africa and a gentleman said ‘Welcome home, my sister.’ So as much as we can make people feel like they entered a welcoming place and to feel that they are more deeply rooted and have a deeper understanding of the culture and their roots, then we have done our job.”

The Diaspora Collective will hold a Grand Opening VIP dinner party on Saturday, February 25, to raise $50,000 toward this new gathering place. Chef Digby Stridiron will prepare this three-course dinner, including cocktails and appetizers. Their official opening is planned soon afterward, in late February 2023.

Cindy Marie Jenkins

Cindy Marie Jenkins writes, coaches, parents, and edits. Usually at the same time. She has covered hyper-local news from Los Angeles to Beijing, Orlando, and now, Phoenix. You can also find her reviewing video games and YouTube from a parenting perspective.
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