2012 Hatch Detroit finalists Detroit Vegan Soul
will celebrate a grand opening in its new space in West Village at 8029 Agnes St. this Saturday, Sept. 28.
After starting out with a vegan meal delivery and catering service
, Kirtsen Ussery and Erika Boyd realized that there is a real demand for homemade vegan comfort food in Detroit. Both vegan themselves, they started veganizing their family recipes and found that people really loved it.
"We were inspired by other vegan soul food restaurants, particularly in Chicago," says Ussery. "We saw that there weren't enough vegan options in Detroit. We wanted to do something that appealed to both vegans and vegetarians but also people who aren't."
Their niche is vegan soul food – comfort food for a plant-based lifestyle. Vegan Soul is the only 100 percent plant-based restaurant in the city of Detroit. "The meal delivery allowed us to see how people would respond to that," Ussery says. "It's one thing to have a couple of dishes on your menu but another for it to be the whole menu. We got a great response and saw Detroiters are ready for this."
After decades of being on every "fattest cities" and "unhealthiest cities" list, Detroiters are making proactive decisions to lead healthier lifestyles. We see this in the fast-growing cycling culture. We see this in the local foods and urban agriculture movement. And now we're seeing it with a growing number of people adopting more organic and plant-based diets. "We think now is the time," says Ussery. "More and more people are embracing this. They want healthier options. We always say there's a burgeoning vegan movement here in Detroit, just like Chicago. At one time (Chicago) was a meat and potatoes industrial city just like Detroit. Now you go there and there are many different kinds of all-vegan restaurants. Now we're kind of at the forefront (of it) here in Detroit."
Co-owner Boyd says, "(D.V.S. is) both unapologetically vegan AND unapologetically soul food. We do soul food but veganize it. We see our food as being a good transition food into a plant-based diet, introduced in a way that is familiar and comfortable."
They pride themselves on being a place that appeals to vegans, vegetarians, and those who eat meat alike, where people know they are eating quality food made from quality ingredients – no refined flours or sugars, no GMO products, and as much organic and locally-sourced as possible. This is a place where vegans can come for comfort food and where meat-eaters can come and discover that a vegan diet, even just a couple of days a week, is totally possible.
The 25-seat dining room will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. They still offer catering and the café will be available for private events Mondays and Tuesdays.
Source: Kirsten Ussery and Erika Boyd, owners of Detroit Vegan Soul
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg
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