Amanda Simpson Neill from Roots Cafe in South Slope Brooklyn. Photo by Kisha Bari.
Amanda Simpson Neill from Roots Cafe in South Slope Brooklyn. Photo by Kisha Bari.

Amanda Simpson Neill wasn’t expecting to start over when she and her husband left their hometown of Nashville for New York City. “We wanted to take an adventure and move to New York for one year just to say we did it. The plan was to move back to Nashville right after the year was up,” she explains.

Four years later, the couple are the owners of Roots Cafe in Brooklyn, a South Slope landmark and a favorite hangout for the AWT team. In this feature from our first issue, Amanda shares her outlook on community.

How has the community helped you with the cafe?

I wouldn’t be here without the community. When people walk in, I know we are neighbors. We are here for community. We’re here to serve them their coffee, but we’re here to give them a home and to remind them that we know their name. That means everything to me.

What are some beliefs you live by?

Do what you love and you never work a day. Even though I love doing what I’m doing right now, I think there’s something deeper than just work. I’ve traveled all over and I have my dream job, but there’s only so much satisfaction that this world will ever bring anybody. I think it’s the saddest when people get their dreams and then they realize that there is more. They have worked all their life for this one thing and then their heart is still longing and that is where god comes in for me because we can’t satisfy ourselves. There is still something bigger than just me, me, me running my own cafe.

Do you have advice for people who want to make a major change in their life?

Know what your dream is and what you’re passionate about. Don’t ever do anything for money. That’s what really brought me happiness and contentment.

Read the rest of the interview, plus more women’s stories from the Community Issue.


Photography: Kisha Bari