You may not be familiar with the name Jonetta Patton, but you’re likely aware of exactly who her famous son is. However, after spending 17 years managing Usher, Patton has now hit the reset button on her career.
Patton was a youth choir director when she first got her start in the music realm. When Usher wanted to become a superstar at age 10, it was his mother who went from the church to the secular industry with him as they moved from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Atlanta.
“I knew that I had to be with him. I had to shuffle a lot of things. I gave him all of me. I gave that career all of me,” Patton explained to Atlanta Black Star in October. “I had given it 17 years, he was grown, he can make his own decisions and it was time for me to retire.”
Patton said the pair agreed to part ways and she enjoyed simply being Usher’s mother for nine years. But in recent years, the one-time music manager has struck out on a new venture. In 2016, she opened J’s Kitchen Culinary Incubator, a shared kitchen space in Atlanta.
As for how this idea came up, Patton said she listened to her personal chefs and learned about their complaints concerning the commercial cooking venue where individuals lease a space to prepare meals.
While Patton sorted through the ins and outs of her new passion, she also discovered there were similarities between singers and chefs: both are artists.
“The only difference was it’s just a different industry,” she said. “After I did my research, [I discovered] there’re no shared kitchens with business services. I’m business savvy, [chefs] have the passion. That’s why I created the incubator.”
J’s Kitchen Incubator, which is located northeast of Atlanta in Doraville, Georgia, was first purchased for music business in 1992 but Patton transformed the space into kitchens. Presently, 19 chefs are signed to the kitchen. Each prospective chef is required to have a ServSafe certificate verifying food and beverage service safety training as well as a minimum $2 million of liability insurance. Patton’s company also partners with the online marketplace start-up Hungry, which helps independent chefs promote and sell to corporate customers.
“I reinvented myself and I love it,” Patton said reflecting on her business. “I absolutely love what I do and it’s not work.”