A Unique Liberia’s Story: From Being a Refugee To An American Employer

This Woman Entrepreneur Owns 2 IHOPs and Manages $225 Million in Real Estate

At the young age of 27, Adenah Bayoh, a former West African refugee, could open her first IHOP franchise in New Jersey. But now at the age of 35, she owns two IHOP locations (one in Paterson, NJ and one in Irvington, NJ) and she manages more than $200 million in urban real estate projects.

 How did she do it?

As a teenager, she escaped the civil war in her native country of Liberia, and could immigrate to the U.S. She went on to attend public high school in Newark, New Jersey, and then put herself through college at Fairleigh Dickinson University where she earned a degree in Business Management. After graduating, she got a job in banking, and from there, she got involved in business and investing.

Adenah Bayoh
Adenah Bayoh

Adenah told a local television station, “My story could not be possible anywhere else except for America. For someone to escape civil war, come here and be given the opportunity [to] start her own business, employ and rebuild [is amazing].” She says she chose the restaurant business because she was inspired by her grandmother, who owned a restaurant in Liberia.

Not just pancakes and syrup

She is also very much involved in urban projects that are designed to rebuild poor communities in the state of New Jersey. In 2012, she partnered with two other developers to purchase the former Irvington General Hospital site, which had been vacant for nearly a decade, and transform it into an unprecedented $200 million dollar residential and retail community.

Currently, she is in pre-development on the construction of another urban renewal project that will provide 40 residential units in Irvington.

So, what’s next?

In 2017, Adenah is planning to launch Cornbread, her signature line of fast casual, farm-to-table, soul food restaurants.

To learn more about Adenah Bayoh and her business ventures, visit

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Jones Nhinson Williams

Jones Nhinson Williams is a Liberian philosopher (born in Pleebo, Maryland County but hailed from River Gee County) firmly educated by the Catholic Church. He is an American trained public policy, labor market information, strategic management, and workforce development professional with accomplished global experience in job creation and institutional governance.
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