Tamearra Dyson, owner of Souley Vegan, has been cooking her signature vegan dishes since the age, of 18. Chef Dyson, a vegan from an early age believes in cruelty free eating.
“I wanted to provide a place that welcomes everyone to come and enjoy the experience we provide that takes them away from the day to day stresses that life can sometimes present. Good music and good feelings that is centered around our Louisiana creole style vegan food. This is not a trend for me, what I do is how I live and I love to make people happy, that’s my joy”
Growing up my Mother fed us three kids (My brother Myron,Sister Rosalie and myself) a primarily vegetarian diet. She didn’t call it that at the time, she just tried to do her best with us. When I was pregnant with my son Aquil, I began cooking. Being a vegan already all of the dishes I prepared were vegan, In June 2007.
I left a very promising career in the medical field for something I was most passionate about, and that something is named Souley Vegan- A single mother with zero savings of course everyone said I was crazy. I began catering and selling food at local markets and events.
In 2009 I came across a vacant restaurant location at 301 Broadway downtown Oakland, CA. After passing by this location a first, second, and third time, I decided to call and schedule a walk through (this is the short story by the way) I barely had the gas to drive down there, but I went and attempted to portray full confidence in my ability to pay the high price the landlord was requiring upon securing the property. I felt in my heart and soul that this place belonged to Souley Vegan. I said to her with the confidence I pretended to have that while my credit wasn’t the best, I would have no problem paying the money she requested. She called me a week later and said, “Tamearra, you said your credit wasn’t the best but you did not say how bad, we will not be able to lease to you” I said if that’s what you choose then I understand, however,if you give me a chance you will not regret it. She responded “So, let me get this straight, I’m supposed to just take you on your word huh?” To which I replied, Yes. She said I’ll call you back..I received a call from her a few days later , as she informed me of the stipulations that I would need to meet in order for me to get the location I was thinking yes!! then thinking, now how am I going to do.
Remembering that it would take my mother because of her pride, an hour to get up the strength to call one of my aunties or Grandfather to ask for food to feed us children when we didn’t have any. I too had that pride and did not want to ask anyone for anything..but I did, I humbled myself and went on a quest for money while continuing to take any and all catering jobs, farmers market etc. to make the money. Yes I got insulted a few times and It was embarrassing and very humbling.
One day I received a call from a customer that heard I was looking for funds to secure this location. To make this long story short 🙂 between the money she loaned and the money I made from catering jobs etc… I literally got the total sum in my hand 20 minutes before I was due to meet my landlord and sign the contract to seal the deal. After signing I thought, YES!! then I thought, now how am I going to pay rent, get equipment in the restaurant etc. (story TBC) this was in March of 2009. When I opened Souley Vegan in July of 2009 I had to my name one pair of pants and the 27 dollars my sister put in the cash register right before I opened the doors.
Soon I will tell the story of how I paid rent with no money for the 4 months I had the property before we actually opened….The money I made the first day went towards supplies for the second day and so on…to be continued …xoxo!!