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Who wants some soul food in New Bedford?

Last Spring, some friends and I checked out the The Kitchen, serving “The Best Soul Food In Town,” in the cafeteria at the United House of Prayer for All People on Kempton Street in New Bedford’s West End. It’s a weekend pop-up eatery at the rear of the church that we had always heard great things about. Salivating for fried chicken, collard greens, cornbread and more, we ventured over – and weren’t disappointed. For about 10 bucks we chowed down and even had dessert.

Hidden delights, off-the-radar destinations and inspiring people are what make up this Sunday’s first-ever neighborhood bus tour of New Bedford – NBx2. It’s the brainchild of downtown NB TDI fellow James McKeag, aided and abetted by his co-working colleagues here at Groundwork! featuring some notable folks from the city, like our tour guides Carl Simmons and Mark Fuller. And yes – The Kitchen is on the tour!

Jim began discussing the idea for a neighborhood bus tour months ago. His patch is usually defined by the TDI district downtown around Purchase and Union Streets – but he adheres to the idea that the downtown is not only a hub but a springboard for all of New Bedford.

We here at Groundwork! gladly enlisted in the cause, helping out by making some connections, creating some graphics, spreading the word to our networks and acting as sponsors for the tour. Co-working has built-in advantages like that; you have the ability to get a lot done by simply looking over your shoulder sometimes and seeing who’s around.

That’s how Youth Opportunities Unlimited on Brock Avenue became the South End stop on the tour. Groundwork! member Carissa Wills-DeMello also works with the non-profit that is dedicated to providing inspiring experiences to the youth of New Bedford. How they’re doing that is something we’ll all find out when we get on the bus for NBx2: The New Bedford Neighborhood Bus tour on Sunday, September 17.

NBx2 begins at Grace Episcopal Church, 133 School Street fronting County Street. We’ll meet there from 1:30 p.m. on and take the opportunity to check out this beautifully restored building.

At 2:00 p.m., everybody gets on the bus for the ride north, and Carl Simmons and Mark Fuller take over as tour guides – one on each bus. That’s right – looks like NBx2 will really live up to its name because as of today advance RSVPs indicate we’ll need two buses to accommodate everyone. (And here’s your chance to RSVP: Click here to reserve your seat. It’s free to ride; food and beverage purchases at any stop offering that amenity are on you.)

We’ll travel up Rt. 18 to Acushnet Avenue and then visit one of the buildings that helped kick off New Bedford’s cultural renaissance over a decade ago: The Ropeworks at 123 Sawyer Street. It’s an artist condo community that was indeed once a ropeworks. We’ll peek inside and get a glimpse ahead of a full Open Studios tour the building is planning for October.

Then, it’s back on the bus for the trip to the city’s West End and the The Kitchen at United House of Prayer for All People at 419 Kempton Street. Here, we’ll linger long enough for guests to grab some of that great chow I opened this post with above as well as meet the super people who make this place hum and sing – or maybe that should be hymn and sing. After that, it’s on to the South End and Y.O.U.

Along the way to each of the stops, Carl and Mark will share some history, anecdotes and points of interest to passengers. Who knows? Some of them may make up a future NBx2 ride.

Finally, back downtown, after disembarking everyone is invited down to lower Union Street for some socializing over cocktails on the Slainte Irish Pub rooftop deck. Groundwork! has held a few monthly Business Buzz events here and we never tire of the beautiful view east of New Bedford harbor and west up Union Street from the roof.

So, hop on to NBx2: the New Bedford Neighborhood Bus tour this Sunday, September 17. You don’t need a Charlie Card. Once again, it’s a free ride – but you must reserve your seat right here at this link to come aboard.

Do it now!

Steven Froias