Photo: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group
Souley Vegan is known for “Authentic Louisiana Creole Flavor,” in a form that is 100% plant based. The Oakland-based vegan restaurant is now preparing to open three new locations in California, as reported by VegNews. A West Hollywood location will open at the end of the July, a San Francisco location in August and another Oakland location in September. The rapid expansion is not only a victory for the company but ultimately, an indicator of something much more significant: Black owned restaurants are capable of replacing the big chains.
McDonald’s and Popeye’s can be found just about everywhere, while Black owned restaurants must generally be sought out. What if that was no longer the case? What if Black owned restaurants could do more than merely survive? Souley Vegan’s expansion is a bold announcement that “when” and not “what if” is now the appropriate question. Rather than french fries and greasy burgers, the day is coming when Creole Nachos, Seitan Steaks with Gravy and Mash, Crispy Seitan and Waffles, and OG Southern Fried Tofu– all dishes from Souley Vegan– will be readily available. Black owned restaurants, with consumer support, can absolutely continue to grow and capitalize on the energy and momentum happening around the country. This moment can grow into a movement, one that eventually manifests on every street corner.
The three new restaurants opening will be delivery and pick-up only. They will, however, offer an extensive vegan soul food menu, one that captures the heart of the company’s Chef and Owner, Tamearra Dyson. Dyson has been cooking her signature vegan dishes since she was 18 and in 2007, decided to leave a promising career in the medical field to pursue her passion. She started out catering and selling food at local events. In 2009 she came across a vacant restaurant in Downtown Oakland, which she passed by several times before deciding to call to schedule a walkthrough. Although she barely had enough gas to drive to the appointment, she went and ultimately made an agreement with the landlord. Tamearra had just one small problem: she didn’t have the cash to close the deal. With just 20 minutes left before she was due to meet the landlord to close the deal, miraculously, she got the money and the rest is history.
The world is changing and Black consumers are the conduit of the change. The world that is emerging will be the byproduct of our choices today. As we support our restaurants, they can grow and expand. Rather than McDonald’s on every corner, our children will get to experience soul and love, all over.