04 Nov Baba’s Vegan Cafe–Reimagining South LA’s Food Desert One Patty At A Time
By Malik Henry
On the corner of Western Avenue and 67th Street sits a new establishment reimagining South LA’s food desert—one vegan patty at a time. Baba’s Vegan Cafe features a combination of vegan and African diasporic cuisine. Previously, the owner had served the historic Crenshaw District with Jamaican-style veggie patties and recently opened the doors to his restaurant located at 6619 S. Western Avenue, Los Angeles.
For 30 years, Community Coalition has known that land use and economic development are inextricably linked processes that expose the layered realities and complexities of political, social, and economic decision-making within local economies. That is why it is so important to showcase successful community-driven business models that are Black and Brown owned.
Born and raised vegan, Wo’se Kofi is a culinary activist and business owner from Los Angeles, California. As a youth, Kofi explored his talent as a rapper, and after late-night studio sessions with his friends, he could never find healthy food options after hours. So he would go home and prepare vegan dishes for him and his crew. After positive reviews, he was encouraged to provide tasty and healthy vegan options to his community.
Kofi began his culinary activism as one of the first vegan vendors at Leimert Park’s African Market Place & Drum Circle Farmers Market on Sundays. By 2014, Kofi’s years of experience in vegan cooking led him to officially brand Baba’s Vegan Cafe as a pop-up eating experience. He has had pop-ups at the Los Angeles Dub Club at The Echoplex and The World Stage throughout the years while also catering his vegan options for businesses across LA. The success of his food also brought with it a new identity for him. He has become known in his community as the “patty man.”
“At the beginning of Covid, business took a major drop,” Kofi said. “It made me realize that people are in their homes more than ever and are doing a lot more cooking. I saw that as an opportunity to teach more vegan cooking classes for those who want to prepare their own healthy dishes at home.”
Kofi revealed that work was slow for about three months into the pandemic before it quickly began to pick up again, “I believe the government relief aid is what helped businesses start to reach out to me again.”
In May of this year, Kofi was approached by an investor who ultimately allowed him to obtain a location for Baba’s Vegan Cafe. “We’ve been cleaning and fixing the place up since May. I spent a lot of my savings to make sure this place was ready for its opening.”
On Friday, October 29th, all of his hard work paid off with a successful grand opening of a much-needed healthy restaurant option that provides a warm community atmosphere. So be sure to drop in and check out the Patty Man’s new digs!