Drop Squad Kitchen on the Wilmington Riverfront is a family affair with Maxine L’Abbee and Abundance, Meara and
A’nanatawa El Child. // Photo by Leslie Barbaro
Abundance Child is no stranger to the hospitality business. Her parents, Maxine and Robert L’Abbee, started Molly’s Ice Cream Café in 1998 in the Shops of Limestone Hills. They opened a second location on the Riverfront in Wilmington.
Abundance at first pursued another path. A graduate of Clark Atlanta University, she has worked as an outreach specialist for the Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay Council, a finance coordinator for Nehemiah Gateway Community Development Corporation and as a resource coordinator for Career T.E.A.M.
In 2012, she joined her family on the Riverfront—on her own terms. Abundance, a vegan since 1993, added meat- and dairy-free items, and Drop Squad Kitchen, named for a Spike Lee film, was born. When Drop Squad’s sales eclipsed Molly’s—and her parents were looking to get out of the everyday grind—Drop Squad Kitchen took over the space. (The Pike Creek Molly’s closed in 2001.)
Maxine, a former human resources executive, handles the staff, which Drop Squad Kitchen has added as sales have grown. Abundance’s brother, Richard, is also involved in the business.
The next generation is now on board. Abundance’s daughter, A’nanatawa El, 21, makes many of the “meats,” including the “cheezeburger” and “V-steak.” Daughter Meara, 13, makes the vegan dressings and the lasagna, which includes walnut-sage sausage. Meara, like A’nanatawa before her, is homeschooled, so she often mans the register. “She’s the first point of contact,” Abundance says proudly.
She acknowledges that some customers are taken aback when she corrects her children. “They don’t think we should talk that way to the staff,” she says. But she’s a mom first, so if she sees them doing something wrong, she speaks up.
Abundance wants the staff to manage Drop Squad Kitchen more so the family can take time off. She considered expanding, but opted to build up her savings so she wouldn’t require a loan. For now, her daughters are staying with the business.
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“They’ve seen people in our family with a four-year degree who have to go begging for a job,” she says. Being an entrepreneur can deliver a higher income.
Of course, it helps to have a niche. “”We’re a destination,” she says. “We’re the only vegan restaurant in Delaware. Period.”