TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — New businesses are in the works for Railroad Crossings on Tallahassee’s South Side. ABC 27 got an inside look at what’s in the works and the challenges entrepreneurs have overcome to make it happen.
It’s a building that has stood on Tallahassee’s South Side since the 1960s. Under new ownership, the row of store fronts will be transformed.
“It gave us the space that we needed at a price that we really liked,” explained E. Marie Sissle, Executive Director of SoMo Coalition for the Arts.
Sissle founded SoMo Playhouse, a performing arts company giving actors, musicians and technicians opportunities to use their talents in the Capital City.
They started in 2014.
“We did a couple of shows during the pandemic,” Sissle added. “We did a collaboration with TCC, and it went pretty well.”
They’ve got big plans for part of the building on South Adams Street.
“We’re going to get 200 seats from Young Actors Theater, which I’m really excited about. We’re getting actual theater seats,” Sissle added.
The entrepreneur also working to transform another empty space in the building into a multi-purpose events space.
Meanwhile, a few doors down, a new kind of arcade is now open. Jennifer Thorne owns NexGen Gaming. “I actually started saving and collecting TVs and PlayStations back in August,” Thorne said. “It’s been a process.”
The arcade gives gamers a new kind of experience putting them inside the game. All they have to do is put on virtual reality headsets, and they’re transported inside a virtual world. Originally in the medical field, Thorne said she made the switch to virtual reality gaming after the challenges brought on by the pandemic. Now, Railroad Crossings is opening up a new opportunity for this female business owner.
“Starting a business as a black woman, it was really hard,” Thorne shared. “I have good credit. I had money in the bank. No one saw my vision.”
It’s that vision that Noble Sissle also has for this property.
“We started at the height of the pandemic in 2020 when everyone was home craving sweets,” Noble explained. He’s the co-owner of The Chocolate Dandies. It’s a small business he runs with boys Noble, Royal, and Knight.
“We wanted to be on the south side of Tallahassee. We wanted to have a home and presence on the south side and serve the community,” Noble added.
They plan to bring a food trailer here later this summer to set up shop in conjunction with the SoMo Playhouse.
“I just can’t wait to have our official ribbon cutting ceremony,” Noble added.
That’s an idea shared with the other entrepreneurs working to bring more business to the south side.
The event space should be open by the end of June. The theater is on track to open this fall.