Small Business Spotlight

Trio: Minnesota’s first Black owned, plant-based restaurant

Louis Hunter, the owner of Trio Plant-Based, is making waves in Minneapolis. His food is inspired by the flavors of hearty soul food that is foundational to his community but brings a healthy twist.

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“Our fondest memories, especially in African-American culture, revolve around food."

Soul food is a symbol of community, childhood, love, and pride in the African American community of Minnesota. With a rich cultural history and delicious flavors, soul food is inevitably tied to African American communities across the United States. Food is a cultural touchstone that brings people together, but it can have adverse health effects. Soul food traditionally uses meat fats, salts, and sugar that can take a toll on health.

Trio is a plant-based restaurant in Minneapolis that brings a healthier alternative to the family recipes and seasoning passed down from Louis Hunter’s family

“At first it was so hard to get my black community [into vegan food]. Soul food that we grew up with wasn't always healthy, but it was really good.”

There are so many ways to get protein and good fuel for your body without using animal products. While telling us his story, Louis noted that the black community is a bit hesitant to eat plant-based, since meat is so heavily-embedded in their culture. With the right seasoning, ingredients, and Louis’ family recipes, the delicious flavors of soul food meet the healthy benefits of vegan food.

“I'm telling you, it makes you feel better. Health-wise and [for your] mental health.”

Community is everything to Louis and his business. Located right on Lake Street, Trio played a huge part in feeding the black community of Minneapolis during the 2020 George Floyd protests. After the protests, the people of Minneapolis got together to help clean up the streets and stand in solidarity with the black community. Trio handed out water and healthy food to help keep people fuelled with good nutrients.

“Trio is nothing without love and community.”

Trio isn’t just a restaurant, but it’s also a pillar of the local African American community. Trio also sells local artwork, books, and other local vendors’ products. All profits and proceeds of those products sold at Trio go to the artist.

As a Black small business owner, Louis has faced many challenges. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, staffing his restaurant has become difficult. His small team has been working overtime to continue serving healthy soul food to his community. Louis has to cover every inch of his business from prepping, to cooking, to cleaning, to paperwork, and taking orders. 

“It's a struggle, but at the end of the day [...] we're here. We’re sustaining and people still love Trio.”

Food brings people together and provides energy and nutrients that fuel everything we do. Just because it’s healthy, doesn’t mean it lacks flavor. Trio has since perfected the delicious flavor of African American soul food using only plant-based ingredients. Get all the love and seasoning of soul food without the fatty oils and high cholesterol.

“I'm ready to get this place around the world because the world needed to taste. This is not a Minnesota thing. This is a world thing.”

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