Five Questions with Barbara Bradford of J.B. Grill

Established in 2015, this Harvard Ave. soul food spot is a cornerstone in the Cleveland community and has been recognized for its outstanding American cuisine, excellent service and friendly staff. The restaurant is known for its modern interpretation of classic dishes and its insistence on only using high-quality fresh ingredients.

We recently sat down with Barbara to talk about her inspirations for J.B. Grill, her experiences in the Core City: Cleveland Impact Program and her growth plans.


What inspired you to create J.B. Grill?

J.B. Grill started a long, long time ago, way down in our family history in the 1980s. My grandfather, Larry Bradford, was the king of soul food. He started Bradford Soul Food in 1983 at the age of 42—and guess what—I’m about to be 42! I would like to take over his legacy and build on it, as he did. So, I’m starting now, and by the time I turn 42 in July I anticipate opening Bradford Soul Food again.


What separates you from the competition?

We’re more family-oriented, hands-on and involved in the community. Whereas other restaurants just focus on generating sales. We generate sales, as well, but also help the community.


What has surprised you about the Core City: Cleveland Impact Program?

What surprised me was the help—you get unlimited support. I thought that being in the program meant that I was going to come to class, take notes and learn.

Throughout the week we have advisors that are hands-on and help you with your homework, your business’s financials and more. I’m really pleased with the program and I didn’t think that I was going to learn this much—it’s actually better than college.


What is the most important thing that the Core City: Impact Program offers entrepreneurs?

The most important thing is knowledge. We learn so much in these two-hour classes on Fridays. I’ve been in business for five years and what I’ve learned in these two-hour classes are more than I’ve learned in five years. It’s very helpful. There are a lot of advisors and a lot of people here to help you.


What are your future plans for your business?

My first plan is to open up in the BoxSpot this summer. We’re primarily focusing on that right now. Afterward, in the next few months, we’re going to try to expand. We’re going to try to open up a dine-in restaurant. I’ve talked to several community developers, and so we’re on track to open up a new restaurant. And in the future, we just want to keep expanding and opening up franchises.


Learn more about J.B. Grill at Then, come watch Barbara pitch her business live on May 15 for a chance to win up to $10,000 at the Core City: Cleveland Entrepreneur Showcase.