BALTIMORE — In Baltimore, there’s a man named Dwayne Benbow Jr., but you probably know him better as “The Funnel Cake King”.
“We can say funnel cakes we got funnel cakes, we have gourmet funnel cakes over here,” he said. “It’s the same principals, it’s a hustling mentality.”
On a sweltering Thursday afternoon, he laid out his plan to take fill the chess board that is Baltimore City with young funnel cake knights.
“Dispatch them, boom we got one at Greenmount. Her son is going to be on Greenmount her son right here he’s going to be on Pratt and Monroe.”
The court started small but at this orientation the number of young employees grew to over ten.
“I kept seeing kids on their bikes kids they trying to get out. They ain’t trying to hear this stay in the house stuff.. everybody calling me like yo I’m tired of my kids, take my kids from me.”
Ameen Bailey got the job because his mom reached out.
“The funnel cake king he basically like a father figure to all the kids,” Ameen said. “He hires people so they don’t gotta be on the corner. He shows us how to make our own businesses and how to progress more.”
His brother Amir Bailey will be working with him.
“I’m learning how to keep myself in check, how to interact with others and how to keep my areas clean,” Amir said.
The head that bears the crown didn’t come this way.
Before starting his first snowball stand outside of the Terra Cafe Benbow Jr. was in prison for 7 years.
Taking that time to grow.
“I want to barber school, computer repair, fiber optics,” Benbow Jr. said. “Got half of my degree in sociology so that means I know how to speak to individuals.”
Jordan Matthews was the first Knight to join the court.
“He’s a black owned business and he’s helping people by taking them off the streets and helping them work and get that money for the summer and stuff,” Matthews said.
Benbow Jr. said he kept coming around so he offered him a job.
“Now Jordan is able to run all run operations by himself,” said Benbow Jr. “He don’t need no adult no supervision or anything out here.”
Every Knight gets a binder with a schedule and the 3 simple principals they have to abide by.
Check your hygiene and appearance always.
Make eye contact with customers and number one- no belt no work.
“We can’t get upset at nobody else if we’re not physically doing it,” said Benbow Jr. “If we’re not physically grabbing them and putting the belts on them. If we’re not putting notebooks in their hands.”
Isiah Johnson is 13 and this is his first chance to earn a paycheck.
“Just making me more responsible and teaching me how to save money and get it.”
Grooming the brightest gems under his crown to build their own empires.
“Helping my mom out around the house and outside,” said Kalani Bowen. “Make some money for myself, but also help my mom pay bills and stuff.”
“I’m in JOTC right now so I want to go to the Army,” Ameen said.
Dorrian Vaughn is the youngest knight at 10-years-old.
He’s looking forward to learning and hopes he learns principals to carry with him when he gets his dream job way down the road.
“A police officer either that or a fireman,” Vaughn said.
There’s only so much ground one king can cover, and Benbow Jr. hopes more people take our young royalty and build them up.
“Grabbing them while they are young pulling them in teaching them all that we can teach them and pass them to the next entrepreneur.”
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