Oakland soul food restaurant aims to inspire healthy choices with vegan Grab and Go fare.
Oakland, CA | Hotels / Restaurants / Caterers
Company: Souley Vegan
Location: Oakland, CA
Industry: Hotels / Restaurants / Caterers
Company: Souley Vegan
Location: Oakland, California USA
Year Founded: 2006
Number of Employees: 23
Mission: Souley Vegan is dedicated to providing 100% vegan Louisiana-inspired soul food that is consciously created without GMOs or refined sugars, and that is locally sourced and organic when possible. We want to change the common perception that vegan food is bland and boring by creating healthy, fun, delicious vegan food that is so full of flavor and soul, even carnivores love it.
Campaign Goal: $25,000+ in contributions to launch Souley Vegan Grab and Go vegan soul food line to be sold at markets throughout the San Francisco Bay Area…and eventually, the world!
Campaign Dates: February 19 though April 4, 2014
Higher Circle Crowdfunding Project: Souley Vegan Grab and Go
Souley Vegan is a vegan soul food restaurant located in downtown Oakland, California. Founded by Tamearra Dyson, our enterprise is more than a restaurant or a brand, we provide a place where the community comes to gather, feel good, meet new people and learn new things. Souley Vegan has a heartbeat and you can feel it when you walk in and hear the music, taste the food and receive genuine customer service. The careful joy and sincere love that goes in to the recipes provides not only a good taste in your month, but also a good feeling in your soul. We would like to offer that to the world through a major expansion of the Souley Vegan Grab and Go line.
Souley Vegan food puts a satisfied smile on your face. We make 100% vegan, 100% delicious BBQ Tofu, Southern Fried Tofu, Okra Gumbo, Mac and Cheese, Potato Salad, Grandpa's Peanut Butter Pie and more. We believe that making our products more accessible through Souley Vegan Grab and Go will help aid those who are trying to change their diet for the better. By selling our products at markets, we become a part of, if not the reason for, more health-conscious choices people make when shopping.
We currently supply four Bay Area markets with Souley Vegan Grab and Go, among them Berkeley Bowl and Rainbow Grocery. That is the extent of our capability given our current production space. The response to our products from customers has been fantastic and Whole Foods has expressed interest in carrying our line, but we can’t produce on a larger scale without our own production kitchen that is solely dedicated to supplying stores. We want to make Souley Vegan Grab and Go available at markets throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and eventually sell our food on airlines and Amtrak and even expand with a national frozen foods line.
This is a huge undertaking that will take $150,000 to launch. Our Higher Circle crowdfunding campaign is the first phase of this effort. If we reach our $25,000 goal, we’ll be able to get the ball rolling with packaging, testing and validation, design and marketing (please see the Financials page for more details).
The more we raise, the closer we’ll be to selling Souley Vegan Grab and Go in your neighborhood!
Tamearra Dyson began Souley Vegan in 2006 by selling her products at local farmers’ markets. When she took the leap of faith to open the restaurant in 2009, she had $27 in the cash register. The money she earned that day was the money she used to shop for ingredients the next morning and so on. She has never received any loans or grants for the business, yet she’s managed to grow it into a thriving enterprise that has garnered rave reviews, employs 23 Oakland residents and serves some 60,000 customers per year.
Souley Vegan has sustained from hard work, prayer and determination. The community response to our business has been phenomenal, and now we need your support to spread the love and health.
Critical Acclaim and Awards
USA Today named Souley Vegan among the ten greatest places for soul food in the country!
The restaurant has also been featured in PBS, VegNews, CBS San Francisco, Black Enterprise, The Network Journal, Vegetarian Times, dozens of blogs and more than 1,200 Yelp reviews!
2013 Best Southern/Soul Food, East Bay Express
2013 Best Southern/Soul Food Restaurant, Oakland Magazine
2013 Best Vegetarian, Bay Area A List
2013 Best Barbaque, Bay Area A List
2012 Best Vegetarian, Oakland Magazine
2011 Best of the Bay, San Francisco Bay Guardian
2011 Best Vegetarian, Oakland Magazine
2010 Best Vegetarian, Oakland Magazine
2010 Best of the East Bay, East Bay Express
“My favorite is the southern-fried tofu with its well-spiced and crispy ‘skin.’ It tastes amazing with Souley Vegan’s hot sauce…I have eaten at Souley Vegan several times, and I have never had a mediocre dish…I must warn you about this place: Once you eat there, you will start to crave it all the time.” -- Sonia Mansfield, CBS San Francisco
“This place is awesome! …Not only do I love the concept of vegan soul food, I love that Souley Vegan executes it so well. They don't take any shortcuts with flavor or consistency, really staying true to the soul food feel.” – Shoshana, Veggie 101
“This is the land of soul where fried chicken meets its match with fried tofu cooked to perfection.” – Angela, The Veracious Vegan
“As a community, we need to eat more healthy as a way of practicing preventive healthcare instead of becoming pharmaceutical dope fiends. Meet Tamearra ‘cook like yo’ grandma’ Dyson…” -- People’s Minister of Information JR, San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper
Please help us launch Souley Vegan Grab and Go!
Souley Vegan needs to secure a commercial kitchen that is at least 5,000 square feet to launch the Grab and Go line. We need our own 100% vegan space to ensure that our products are produced in an environment that adheres to the highest quality standards. We are looking for a space in Oakland, ideally in a high traffic area so that we can use this location as a small retail outlet as well as production space.
Once the capital is in place, we envision that we can build out the space and begin production in approximately 6 to 8 months.
Product Development and Marketing
The first phase of launching Souley Vegan Grab and Go will involve designing the packaging and testing biodegradable containers that will be compatible with our products. This will include proper sealants to ensure no leakage and ensure freshness. The containers need to be inaccessible to consumers prior to purchase (consumers will be advised not to purchase is the seal is broken). We will also test the new products we want to bring to the market – both by soliciting feedback from consumers and by analyzing shelf life.
We strive for the highest quality with the taste and nutrition of our food, as well as its presentation. We will create professional packaging that will stand out in any retail outlet, along with marketing materials to sell our products to stores and consumers.
At this level of financing, we will be able to sign a lease on a space and purchase the equipment required to begin production: fryers, a walk-in freezer, a walk-in refrigerator, commercial refrigeration, 2 stoves, 2 convection ovens, storage shelves, prep tables, pots/pans, cooking utensils, etc.
Secure Production Facility
The final phase of launching Souley Vegan Grab and Go will be securing a production facility. This level of financing will give us a cushion to pay the rent for up to a year as we get our operation up and running.
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