When a business is born out of pure happenstance, you know the product is good! That was the case for Vegan Flava Cafe. Yah-I Tafari and his wife, Ma’at Maakhera Amen, who is also co-owner, spent time traveling from state to state attending natural haircare shows to promote and sell her book, Whatz In Your Womb. Finding it difficult to locate vegan food on the road, they began to prepare their own. Always willing to share, they soon had people lining up for Amen’s book as well as a plate of vegan food with flava. The following year, they became food vendors at those same events as a result of the demand they had created unintentionally.
Yah-I has worked in the natural food industry all of his adult life and adapted a vegan lifestyle well over twenty years ago. Yet oddly enough, he vividly recalls telling someone prior to becoming vegan that, “I can’t ever see myself not eating meat.” So when someone walks into Vegan Flava Cafe with that apprehension, he understands it because at one time, he could relate. “The space between not wanting to try it and trying it is growth” per Yah-I. It’s about “reseting you tastebuds.” Which is why when the couple discussed the naming of their restaurant and the vision for it, “Flava was essential. We are not going to be afraid of making things taste great and still making them vegan.”
All of the dishes at Vegan Flava Cafe are organic non-GMO, soy-free, gluten-free, pesticide free and ingredient sensitive. Their most popular dish by far is the curry lentils which are also oil free. Yah-I primarily works with four local farmers who provide the majority of ingredients as well as other stores or distributors as need.
In addition to being able to activate the tastebuds with its flavorful dishes, Vegan Flava Cafe is also a self proclaimed “networking hub”. Connecting individuals while prominently displaying and incorporating products from other business is a normal occurrence. They have managed to create an environment that not only fuels the body but also nourishes the soul. Anything from African dance, to wellness seminars and open mic nights are a part of the dna of the cafe which is something Yah-I takes great pride in. “Having you come into Vegan Flava Cafe is like having you come into my home. All of my passions converge here.” says Yah-I.
Big on energy and alignment, Yah-I has been fortunate to build relationships with customers and fellow business owners who fell in love with his food as well as his vision and ultimately became a part of the business. One such example is the relationship they former with the third owner, Goddess Deborah. Just before they established the current brick and mortar location for Vegan Flava Café the husband and wife duo considered moving to Atlanta to establish the business thinking that it offered a better marketplace. Just prior to doing so, “Our paths crossed with Goddess Deborah. We had been vendors at her holistic women’s empowerment events for at least 3 years prior. She asked us if we wanted to be a part of her spa as the café. One thing lead to another and the spa didn’t work out but we wound up partnering with her to open up our location at Vegan Flava Café.” recounts Ma’ta. “Folks who sorta came out of nowhere. They weren’t a part of the plan but they landed at 4125 Durham Chapel Hill blvd and they contributed greatly to where we are now” states Yah-I. That’s the kind energy that resides at Vegan Flava Cafe. One of community, networking and great food.
Approaching their one year anniversary at their current location, Yah-I is focused on making his eldest daughter’s (12 yo) dream of having locations in sixteen cities within the state of NC come true. He’s already set his sights on his second proposed location. So,Yah-I’s mission to help us all in “Being better, by eating better” continues.
Vegan Flava Cafe
4125 Durham Chapel Hill Blvd