Skip to main content
Fulton Bank
Fulton Bank

Sweet Peaz Southern Kitchen & Fulton Bank

Publishedon02/29/24 WrittenbyWBAL Story Studio

For Fatimah, and many women and minorities like her, Fulton Bank’s Diverse Business Banking program provides the perfect “recipe” for success.

When Fatimah Ames promised her mother, before she died, that she would honor her by opening a restaurant in her name, she knew that without any business experience and very little savings, she would be facing a long journey. Fast forward now several years later, and Fatimah can look back at the portrait of her mother as it hangs on the wall of her office, with a sense of pride. That’s because with her own passion for cooking, and teaching others how to cook with a sense of “joy and love”, Fatimah and her banking partner, Fulton Bank, have created something truly special. Sweet Peaz Southern Kitchen, a labor of love and restaurant in Baltimore, has redefined what the southern food experience is all about. From its humble beginnings to its current menu and forthcoming relocation to Baltimore’s burgeoning Lexington Market area, Fatimah has without question delivered on that promise to her mom. She begins, “This all came about through my mom, who passed away in 2006. Prior to her passing, I told her I was going to open a restaurant and name it after her, and she didn’t believe me. But when she passed, that was my motivation to keep my word. Initially, I had a restaurant in New York, but it didn’t last. When I moved to Maryland four years ago, I started over by saving until I was ready to open again, and named it “Sweet Peaz,” which was my mom’s nickname.”

the outside of sweet peaz southern kitchen

A chance meeting…and a chance to partner with Fulton Bank.

Acknowledging that she did not have any experience in starting her own business, Fatimah was fortunate to accept an invitation several years ago to attend a Fulton Bank ribbon cutting event celebrating their new branch location in Federal Hill, near where Fatimah was living. It was there she met Sherry Curry, Fulton Bank’s Vice President of Business Development. Together, the “dynamic duo” began a long-term business relationship that led to making Sweet Peaz Southern Kitchen a reality. Fatimah shares, “I had already been in business 3 years before I met Sherry. She helped me structure my business and get capital for my upcoming move to Lexington Market.” Sherry adds, “Meeting Fatimah that day was an example of Fulton Bank’s motto of ‘changing lives for the better.’ We both realized she needed significant help. She did not know a lot about her business infrastructure; she did not have a relationship with a business banker. She did not have a lawyer, and she didn’t have an accounting system. Fortunately, through Fulton’s Diverse Business Banking program, she could have access to an array of services to help give her both direction and the critical resources she needed to achieve her dream.”

A local bank that offers real solutions for local minorities and small business owners.

Created, in part, to help Baltimore’s continued renewal effort, Fulton Bank’s Diverse Business Banking program is specifically geared towards helping women, especially those who own businesses and those who are minorities, veterans, and those within the LGBTQ+ community. The range of services can include everything from providing assistance in developing a business plan and favorable business loans to providing referrals and introductions to local attorneys for legal assistance. Sherry has even crafted her own acronym to emphasize some of the more critical program elements. She continues, “I call this my BAIL plan, which stands for Banker, Accountant, Insurance and Legal advice because all business owners need to have these services to be successful.” To reach her monthly goal of bringing in at least 10 new small business relationships each month, she personally visits small businesses several times each week, a tactic she refers to as “feet on the street”, to help advise, educate, and encourage women in business to reach their business goals and achieve their dreams. “They really appreciate my efforts,” she says. “I’ve had business owners cry when I walk in because they have not seen a business banker come into their part of the city. Some might need a variety of our banking services, including cash management, lending, merchant services, a financial advisor, or even someone who just needs to open a business banking account.”

Four people cutting a ribbon to open Sweet Peaz Southern KitchenWorking together to make dreams become reality.

For Fatimah, and many women and minorities like her, Fulton Bank’s Diverse Business Banking program provides the perfect “recipe” for success. This includes attentive, personalized service, a benefit that she noticed from the very beginning. She continues, “What I love about Fulton is, because they are a smaller bank, they are able to give you that intimate, one-on-one time that you need to put you on the right track to prepare you for your bigger journey as a small business owner. Plus, Fulton Bank is actually educational. By that I mean they show and teach you about the things you need to do to build a successful business.” With her plans to move Sweet Peaz Southern Kitchen into Lexington Market soon, and aspirations to add additional locations, Fatimah is poised to become an over-achiever, and perhaps surpass even her own dreams of just a few short years ago. But she’s also one who will strive to keep her success in perspective- never forgetting as to why she wanted to become a chef in the first place. She concludes, “I love to cook, and through the gift of cooking that I have, I like to help other people. I like to bring joy to other people and put a smile on their face, either by cooking for them or teaching them how to cook. In essence, with my gift through cooking I try to spread love and healing to people, and Fulton Bank’s Small Business team has helped make it all possible.”