24 Aug August Is Black Business Month
Meet Jeremy and Gregory Pearson: Brothers on a Mission to Assist the Community With Healthier Food Options
The Pearson Brothers, owners of SLIDES’ N FRIES, were inspired to open a plant-based restaurant after witnessing the toll that health issues had on relatives due to poor diets and lack of access to healthy food choices.
“Growing up and witnessing the gruesome, long, painful, and untimely deaths of both our grandmothers and our aunt due to diabetes, we knew that the food was killing us. As adults, we knew we had to be the change we wanted to see. Not only for us but for our family,” says Jeremy.
The two have been on their plant-based journey for the past four years. “We were inspired to start SLIDES’ N FRIES after our mother beat Type 2 Diabetes within six months, simply by switching to a plant-based diet. This is why SLIDES’ N FRIES is so important to us. Because we never want anyone to experience the pain of losing a loved one from something that could have been avoided.”
The brothers poured their life savings into their business to offer their community something healthy. “We love our community and sharing all this veganism with everybody and letting people know that you can eat plant-based food, and it’s good,” Gregory said. “We just wanted to bring some healthy eating options to the community. Something tasteful and loving.”
It took the two entrepreneurs a whole year before ever selling one single burger just to come up with the recipe. They poured countless hours of planning, long days of food prepping, writing business plans, applying for permits, saving up all our money to buy equipment, maxing out our credit cards for expenses, and neglecting personal needs to see the business flourish, all while working endlessly in the hot sun at flea markets and long nights in front of night clubs and venues.
The Pearsons take their pop-up restaurant to flea markets, festivals, events, and neighborhoods that don’t often have healthy food options. “We just want people to start focusing on eating plants and fruits and veggies. It’s going to change your life,” Gregory explains. “There are food deserts all around.”
According to the website Food Apartheid in Los Angeles and the “Food Desert to Food Oasis: Promoting Grocery Story Development in South Los Angeles,” a 2010 study found South L.A. had only 60 full-service grocery stores for the area’s 1.3 million residents. The same study found the rate of obesity in South L.A. is more than triple the rate in West L.A. If you live in South Central, Lynwood, or Compton (Service Planning Area 6), your life expectancy is 6.6 years lower than in Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, or Malibu (Service Planning Area 5). Additionally, based on the County of Los Angeles Department of Health’s 2015 Community Health Assessment, SPA 6 has some of the worst health statistics in Los Angeles County, encompassing high percentages of adults diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes and the highest rate of obese adults in the county.
“Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food,” Jeremy said. “SLIDES ‘N FRIES is a 100% handmade, vegan burger business. All plant-based, all the cheese is plant-based, all the patties are made in-house.”
After spending two years getting their business up and running, the SLIDES’ N FRIES guys took a major hit. On July 29, after working all day at a pop-up location in South L.A., they returned home to their Rampart Village neighborhood late at night. Usually, the pair unload their equipment into a secured storage space. However, the facility was closed for the night, so they parked the equipment truck outside their home. A U-Haul truck carrying all their gear and equipment was caught on camera. Surveillance footage showed the thieves driving away with the truck as another SUV followed closely behind.
“Just to get everything taken away is heartbreaking,” Gregory said. “It’s heartbreaking.”
“I get emotional, man,” Jeremy told KTLA Channel 5. “But we are thankful to KTLA, the community, and people spreading awareness. God willing, we’ll be able to get back on our feet.”
Thankfully, the news story and a GoFundMe campaign have Gregory and Jeremy back in business. Intending to raise $10,000 to relaunch our business, the community has shown its solidarity to these vegan activists and businessmen. Not only did the community help them meet the 10K goal, but supporters have also exceeded it by giving an additional $5,000.
“Thank you all for your support and donations! We are overjoyed and eternally grateful for the way the community has shown up for us. We will be unveiling what our plans (sic) with funds are very soon. We’re excited for the future and the opportunity to continue growing the SLIDES’ N FRIES brand,” said the brothers via the GoFundMe page.
Crowdfunding is definitely one way to raise capital for your business. As we celebrate Black Business Month, here are more resources:
Coalition to Back Black Businesses –The Coalition to Back Black Businesses is an initiative to support Black small business owners and the communities they serve as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic through grants, training, and resources. Through 2023, the Coalition will distribute numerous $5,000 grants, mentorship, and training. A select few will receive a $25,000 enhancement grant.
SCORE for Black Entrepreneurs to address the specific needs and barriers experienced by Black-owned businesses. At a local level, SCORE offers a network of mentors who are experienced entrepreneurs, industry experts, and retired professionals who volunteer to help mentor small business owners. Working with a mentor is free of charge. SCORE also offers workshops and resources. Los Angeles County Chapter: Los Angeles County – SCORE
Black Business Strategies – a business education, consulting and technical assistance program geared to help level the playing field for Black-owned businesses disproportionally affected by limited access to capital and systemic obstacles that can stifle their growth and sustainability. The next BBS cohort will launch on September 21st! Applications are due September 15th.
The Publish Her Business Impact Grant (BIG) has been operating since 2018 and has already issued $250,000 in grant proceeds. The program is currently running a contest for a $5,000 grant that will be awarded to a woman of color business owner. Eligible businesses have to be 100 percent woman-owned and demonstrate how they’re making a difference in the lives of others.