To wrap up Black History Month, we’re featuring a few business partners who strive to serve the community through food and kindness. Learn more about their stories below and show your support by ordering on EatStreet with Free Delivery, plus $5 off with coupon code BHM2022 through the end of the month!
Growing up, one of LaVale Jackson’s favorite smells was of greens and cornbread cooking in his kitchen. The Topeka chef lived in a home that always had something on the stove, and his family’s love for food inspired his own journey in creating 7.8.5 Kitchen.
Established in Topeka Kansas, LaVale created a haven for soul and comfort-food, bringing these traditional dishes to a more local crowd. He emphasized his restaurant’s mission when choosing a name for his restaurant.
“I decided I wanted something local,” LaVale said. “And 7.8.5 is my area code, which made me think putting 7.8.5 plus the word kitchen together would be an easy name to like and remember.”
7.8.5 Kitchen serves all kinds of classics, including fried catfish and okra, wings and LaVale’s own favorite, greens and cornbread.
LaVale celebrates Black History Month every day by honoring his heritage and serving the community food that comforts the soul. Every day, LaVale’s own kitchen is filled with the same smells he grew up on, and he hopes other people can find their own favorites in his cooking.
How to support 7.8.5 Kitchen:
James Bloodsaw Jr.
Chef and long-time vegan James Bloodsaw Jr. saw a problem in the Madison food community: when he wanted to eat out, there weren’t many plant-based options to choose from. With his own 30 years of cooking experience, having learned from both from his father and at Reggio’s Pizza in Chicago, Chef James opened JustVeggiez in 2018.
Four years later, JustVeggiez continues to provide veggie-lovers with countless tasty plant-based options for both lunch and dinner. Inspired by his father, a chef for a VA hospital, Chef James believes in the importance of cooking and serving the community.
“Eat well, be happy,” Chef James says. “JustVeggiez is a 100% black-owned, family-owned vegan restaurant, catering and vendor service that will provide a healthier version of your favorite foods.”
Through every challenge and triumph, Chef James is thankful for his family and their continued support of the restaurant. Together, they find many ways to give back to the community, but with JustVeggiez especially, they are able to provide more options to a people with vegan and vegetarian diets.
From Plant-Based Cheese Curds to Jerk Drumsticks and their popular Buffalo Chix Sandwich, Chef James and his family strive to support the community in both food and character. Thanks to their hard work and ingenuity, JustVeggiez makes life more convenient and a little more tasty for many veggie-loving foodies.
How to support JustVeggiez:
Mentoring Positives and Off the Block
Inspired by his mother and the relationships he was building working in community youth programs, Will Green started Mentoring Positives in 2004 to help vulnerable youth build important life skills and improve their self esteem.
At first, Mentoring Positives was a one-on-one mentoring program with basketball groups in Madison’s Darbo neighborhood. But after studying Urban Agricultural Sustainability, Will partnered with a local activist to create Off the Block, a project where kids made salsas and frozen pizzas using produce from “The Edible Acre,” an acre of land donated by Holy Cross Church to use for farming at the time.
To bring kids in, they used “hooks” like basketball and a job, and then got to the social, emotional and educational parts of the program. The kids make salsas and frozen pizzas to earn some money, but they also walk away with advice on life, career exploration and financial literacy. The main goal of both projects is to increase the self esteem and confidence in youth.
“We really pay attention to that,” Will said. “I think the kids know that we value and see them, and then that’s helpful for them to do a job and work with us. It’s a really good combination of trying to piece that emotional mentoring through tangible life skills.”
Off the Block sells their products in multiple stores in Madison and now at Forkful Market on EatStreet. And while helping local kids and giving back to the community, Will also finds that the food helps him go back to his own roots.
“Food is another really good hook that brings people together,” Will said. “We were the traditional house that had all our family come to eat. My mother was the focus of that. She was just an amazing cook, and my grandmother was, too.”
Both his mother and grandmother unfortunately died young of cancer, and to this day, Will carries on their legacy by bringing people together with food. For many broken families, it’s difficult to carry on these traditions. But with Mentoring Positives and Off the Block, Will and his team ensure that every kid gets a chance to be a part of a family, and thus, a tradition.
How to support Mentoring Positives and Off the Block:
- Follow along on Facebook and Instagram
- Order Off the Block products
- Give a financial donation during “The Big Share” fundraising event or on their website
Black-Owned Restaurants on EatStreet
We are committed to serving all members of the community and are proud to work with so many Black-owned restaurants in and out of the kitchen. Don’t forget to show your own support through the end of the month with EatStreet-sponsored Free Delivery and $5 off all orders with the code BHM2022 at the restaurants below!
Not seeing your restaurant on the list? Let us know! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
$5 off coupon code BHM2022. Only valid on EatStreet orders at select restaurants in participating markets. $15 order minimum. Offer not valid in-store. Offer expires 2/28/2022. Free Delivery only available at select restaurants. Exclusions apply.