Gunfire took the life of a beloved local chef. His family wants to know why.

Quadir Flippen was the chef at Blackseed Cafe in Point Breeze. (Courtesy of Nashyia Pinder)

Quadir Flippen was the chef at Blackseed Cafe in Point Breeze. (Courtesy of Nashyia Pinder)

Until recently, Blackseed Cafe’s Facebook page featured a stream of photos meant to make your mouth water. Strawberry pancakes glistening with syrup. Avocado toast topped with scrambled eggs and microgreens. A buffalo chicken sandwich on a charred brioche bun.

Now, it’s about Quadir Flippen, the chef behind those culinary creations. The Point Breeze eatery is temporarily closed while the owners grieve.

It’s just too painful.

“I don’t think I’m ever coming back around to this restaurant,” said Dayan Hayes, who grew up with Flippen on nearby Wilder Street. “There’s too many memories.”

Last Thursday, in the predawn darkness, Flippen was shot and killed in his car outside Blackseed, where he routinely put in 12-hour days cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner.

He was 31 years old.

Police are still searching for suspects. They think a single shooter murdered Flippen. They don’t know why.

Nashyia Pinder, Flippen’s older sister, is also looking for answers. The shooting dumbfounds her. Her brother kept a tight social circle and never had an enemy.

The only motive that makes sense to her is jealousy.

“He was on his way to the top,” Pinder said.

Cooking was Flippen’s ticket. He learned from his sister, who learned from their mother, who sold dinner platters from the house for extra cash.

Macaroni and cheese. Turkey wings. Shrimp scampi. Potato salad.

Blackseed Cafe chef Quadir Flippen in the kitchen. (Courtesy of Nashyia Pinder)

Flippen was a “jack of all trades,” but he was naturally drawn to the kitchen. He started as an assistant, helping the women he loved dearly. But by middle school, he was cooking on his own, Pinder said.

“His chicken was better than mine,” she said with a laugh.

Black Seed Cafe opened in November 2019 in the rapidly gentrifying Point Breeze neighborhood. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Blackseed Cafe was built around Flippen’s self-taught talents with a changing neighborhood in mind.

The cafe started serving up food in November on the 2400 block of Federal Street in the heart of Point Breeze. The South Philadelphia neighborhood has seen property values — and the median income — skyrocket in recent years, as new residents, many of them white, move into the historically Black neighborhood.

Flippen and Pinder lived a few blocks from his restaurant, in the house where they grew up. He helped raise her young son.

Pinder said the grand opening was the first time she saw Flippen really smile since their mother, Darlene Pinder, died suddenly from a brain aneurysm in 2017.

“That was one of the happiest days of his life,” Pinder said.

“It was a beautiful thing to see him live out his dream,” added Zeb Palmer, Flippen’s cousin.

Blackseed became Flippen’s life. His second home. The place he’d dish out salmon cheesesteaks with a side of “old man” music: The O’Jays, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder. Some 90s R&B too.

Iyannah McKendrick is the owner of Blackseed Cafe, where her cousin, Quadir Flippen, was the chef. Flippen was shot to death outside the restaurant as he arrived for work on Feb. 6 (Emma Lee/WHYY)

That second home is dark now. Pin-drop quiet.

Hayes is sick about it.

“You never put nothing past nobody, but I just didn’t think this was his fate at all,” she said.

City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, a regular at Blackseed, agreed, calling Flippen a “beacon of hope.”

“Oftentimes growing up in Point Breeze, you don’t see a lot of young guys make it out of the neighborhood. But this is a young man who had a bright future,” Johnson said. “This was a young man who was about something. And that’s why this senseless death is totally frustrating.”

As of Feb. 11, the city had recorded 44 murders, a 26% increase over the same time last year, which ended with 355 murders.

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