By Shelby Clark
DETROIT – Soul food lovers who have turned to vegetarianism or veganism can reunite with their mac and cheese or fried “catfish” soon.
Detroit Vegan Soul, the vegan soul food project from Kirsten Ussery and Erika Boyd, opens this week in Detroit. The lesbian couple had been operating a successful catering business around veggie-based soul food for the past year, when customer response became so positive that opening a cafe became inevitable.
“Detroiters are ready for this,” says Ussery. “Detroit’s one of the most obese cities, and now people are more conscious of the food they eat leading to this problem. People are excited for vegan foods.”
Ussery, who works as the baker for the business venture, has already had an influential hand in Detroit. She’s championed LGBT children in Detroit Public Schools, held leadership roles in SPICE (Sistas Providing Intelligence, Creativity, and Empowerment) and worked for former City Council President, Charles Pugh.
Boyd, the primary chef, considers herself a lifelong entrepreneur, owning and operating a natural hair care business and working as a licensed barber. Both are fans of cooking, with Boyd coming from a family of good cooks.
“We became vegan to fight family health issues,” said Ussery, “so we wanted to make comfort foods healthier.” As the only 100-percent vegan establishment in Detroit, the women are hoping both vegans and non-vegans gravitate to familiar foods.
Restaurant-goers can expect to find their comfort foods tweaked to drop animal-based products. Soy-based proteins like tofu and tempeh can be found in BBQ Tofu and Smothered Tempeh. Unique twists like Coconut Collards-n-Cabbage, Curry Navy Beans, and Sweet Corn Mashed Potatoes fill the extensive sides list.
Dessert is not to be forgotten with traditional favorites: sweet potato pie, peach cobbler, and chocolate cake among more.
Detroit Vegan Soul opens Sept. 28 at 8029 Agnes St., Detroit, with a ribbon cutting and live music to celebrate. The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays. Breakfast will be served on Sundays.