Tributes Pour Out for NYC Restaurateur and Community Leader, Jonathan Adewumi, Upon His Passing
The Nigerian-born cultural advocate was a pillar of New York's African community.
New York-based restaurateur, businessman and community advocate Jonathan Adewumi has passed, due to complications from COVID-19. His family confirmed the news to OkayAfrica on Tuesday.
As partner of the family-owned, Brooklyn-based Nigerian restaurant Amarachi, Adewumi helped create a unique space for people to congregate while enjoying good food and hospitality. He was an alumni of Utica College, class of '86, and a cherished member of New York's African community, dedicated to advancing its culture and providing mentorship to young people following in his footsteps—many of whom affectionately referred to him as "Uncle Jonathan."
"From the moment I met him, he was a larger than life figure because of his impact in our organization," Stanley Lumax, founder of African Chophouse tells OkayAfrica. The two were members of the fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi.
"He was involved in everything from an African Film Festival to bringing traditional African clothing to the forefront of fashion before it became a thing and opening an African restaurant downtown Brooklyn," adds Lumax. "We became closer when I found out about the restaurant and realized I could get authentic Nigerian food in Brooklyn."
Although he was a local leader, Adewumi was also involved in connecting the diaspora globally. He founded the travel company Homeland Travels and Tours, which he described as a "gateway to guided tours of Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Kenya," in a 2019 interview with New York Amsterdam News.
He is survived by his son Jonathan Adewumi Jr., his sisters Elizabeth Body-Lawson, Chief Joyce Adewumi, and brothers Mr. Samuel Adewumi, Joseph "Bub" Adewumi (and his wife Maxine Adewumi), nieces Angelica and Isis Body-Lawson, Shola Adewumi, Rhema Adewimi, Sade Adewumi and Joseph Adewumi Jr.
"It's a big loss," says his younger brother Joseph "Bub" Adewumi who described him as "the face of the family" because of his outgoing spirit and ability to connect with people. "We will continue to support all the initiatives he was involved in," he adds.
Adewumi will be remembered for his commitment to community and culture. "He was always serving a community, whether it was Brooklyn, Africans or Kappas—he always offered a sanctuary for gathering and fellowship," says Lumax. "His ability to pivot not only gave him the wisdom that he was able to share with us as younger Africans, but his consistency, compassion and humor made it easy to be around him. He was a humble legend and will not be able to be replaced. I lost a big brother in every sense of the word."
His family has set up a GoFundMe in order to help with the costs of finding a resting site "where anyone of us, at our own convenience can visit and show their love."
Many young people in New York's African community have expressed similar sentiments about the cherished community figure and have taken to social media to commemorate him.