L.A. stories of inspiration and success

L.A. stories of inspiration and success

Wo'se Kofi (far right) owner of Baba's Vegan Cafe in South L.A.
From his beginnings of rapping at local poetry and evening events, Wo'se Kofi realized that after shows, there were no healthy options at venues or nearby in South LA.

As someone who was raised vegan, Wo'se thought it would be great to provide this option for audiences. He had prior experience in restaurants, so it felt like a natural calling to fill this need for people in the area.

In 2013, he founded Wo'se's Gourmet. A year later, the business became Baba's Vegan Cafe, which expanded to offer catering services. When Wo'se joined the SEE-LA Seasoned Accelerator Program, he and his partner Lauren had already successfully crowdsourced funds to open their first storefront and they were excitedly embarking on their search for the right space.

As part of the accelerator program, cohort members are paired with seasoned hospitality industry veterans to receive extra support in fostering a smooth and sustainable transition into a standing operation. SEE-LA connected the team with Kenny Lao, principal of Culinary Task Force, a company that assists entrepreneurs who have just opened or are on the cusp of opening their first brick-and-mortar restaurant. Kenny has extensive experience in this area, having previously founded Rickshaw Dumplings, an Asian fast-casual restaurant group in New York City.

With the guidance of SEE-LA, Baba's Vegan Cafe opened a new restaurant in South LA off 67th and Western. The establishment specializes in vegan veggie patties, plant-based soul food, raw options, and more. The cafe also offers poetry nights, monthly brunches and other gatherings. Wo'se is on a mission to enlighten people "one mouth at a time." SEE-LA is proud to have been a part of their journey.

Baba's Vegan Cafe is located in LA City Council District 8.

EWDD Incubators

EWDD administers and supports several incubators in the City of Los Angeles through Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, including Sustainable Enterprises of Los Angeles (SEE-LA), which supports food entrepreneurs. SEE-LA's Seasoned Accelerator program, now going into its third year, has continued to help empower local food and beverage businesses through its unique model of promoting intergenerational knowledge and exchange.

Through individualized advising and coaching from food industry experts, the program offers Los Angeles-based businesses the opportunity to learn from mentors and help create thriving business conditions. The program's team of advisors and webinar instructors also share unique skills that assist small business owners in fostering business growth and longevity.

This story is part of the EWDD UPDATES from the week of February 14, 2022. Read this issue and more.

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