Madison, WI is home to a diverse community of local food entrepreneurs. Here are nine local, Black-owned food businesses that we recently featured in our Madison trEats “Island Time” bag during Black business month. From ready-to-eat African meals delivered to your door, to preserved sauces and condiments, and from vegan meals to delectable desserts and soul food, we are sure you will find something delicious to eat! Shop these 8 Black-owned food businesses now and forever for delicious treats. Buy Black, buy local.
Angela Morgan, Owner
Food Junkies owner Angela Morgan LOVES cooking, and was looking for a way to generate an income which would allow her to be available for her 2 daughters. It all started at her own kitchen table. Food Junkies specializes in street and soul food with flavors which get you “hooked!” Specialties include her Seafood Boil, Tater Tot Casserole, and Jerk Chicken Salad. Food Junkies operates from the commercial kitchen at Badger Rock Neighborhood Center, where she continues to provide delicious, crave-worthy food to her customers despite a slow down in her business due to COVID-19.
Afi Ananda Assignon
Afiwa Namo Assignon Akakpo
Ayawa Kiniglo, Co-Owners
Phone: (608) 338-9919
Adding to Madison’s growing variety of African food, sisters Ananda, Maleki, Afiwa, and Ayawa opened La Casserole to add their interpretation of Togolese/West African cuisine to Madison’s local culinary conversation. La Casserole creates traditional Togolese dishes with a French twist in their ingredients and presentation, reflecting the French colonial history of Togo. La Casserole is available for private catering and pop ups at fairs and events.
James Bloodsaw, Owner
Phone: (608) 209-5070
Just Veggiez is a 2 & 1/2 year old catering service started by James Bloodsaw which specializes in providing plant- based versions of popular meat-based dishes. James was motivated to become a vegan even though he was raised in a meat-eating household, after seeing family members suffer health crises he felt could be curtailed through dietary changes. This Black-owned food business pops up at local fairs and events, and continues to serve their customers delectable plant-based, family-size meals through a weekly menu which rotates and which can be ordered ahead through their website. Their recent event at Goodman Community Center’s Ironworks cafe featured Vegan Southern Fried Drumsticks with sides of vegan lasagna, greens & dinner roll.
Melly Mels Deli & Catering
Carmell Jackson, Owner
Phone: (608) 213-3020
Facebook: Melly Mels Deli & Catering
Anyone in Madison who loves soul food has heard of Mellie Mels, which has a 10 year history of making soul food from closely-guarded family recipes passed down through the generations. Carmell Jackson, owner of Melly Mel’s, has a personal mission to preserve black culture, and you can taste that dedication in her delicious dishes. Famous for their Fried or Baked chicken and BBQ Rib Tips, the Mac ‘n Cheese is particularly delicious and not to be missed. While Melly Mel’s has closed its restaurant, catering is still available through their website and items can be ordered through Christine’s Kitchens.
Cafe Costa Rica Mango Man Cooks
Thony Clarke, Owner
Phone: (608) 352-8466 (Mobile)
Thony “Mango Man” Clarke, owner of the former Williamson St. eatery, Cafe Costa Rica and operator of the food cart of the same name has been a fixture in the restaurant community in Madison. The “Mango Man” moniker comes straight from the bold, spicy, tropical flavors of his Latin-Inspired soul food dishes which feature the tastes of the Caribbean. Clarke has become particularly famous for his sauces, which he now sells by the bottle. Don’t miss his Salsa Verde which goes particularly well with any dish featuring sweet plantain. While Clarke closed his restaurant in 2014 to focus on his sauce production and has curtailed food cart sales due to health conditions which make him susceptible to COVID-19, he is still satisfying his customers with weekly family-style meals which can be ordered from his website and be picked up at FEED Kitchens on Sherman Avenue.
Awa Sibi hails from the Ivory Coast. She came here in 2013 to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison and had planned to study HR (she had been in law school in the Ivory Coast). But as sometimes happens, plans changed. A single mom, she had to care for her young son while also attending school. While in school, she missed the food from her home country and started cooking for friends. Soon, she realized that she could start a business selling food, spices and condiments. She now cooks out of Badger Rock, and makes delicious meals for delivery, as well as prepared spice mixes and condiments. I am a fan of the habanero hot sauce but be warned it is hot! Her yassa chicken over attieke ( a fermented cassava dish) is absolutely incredible and a family favorite.
Eric Gavins founded Savi Cafe in 2017 and soon after opened a restaurant in the basement of the courthouse. He specializes in a number of dishes that range from Jerk Chicken to soul food and makes a delicious Meditrrenean pasta salad. A Madison native, he graduated from East high school before attending Madison College in small business and culinary arts. He is inspired by the ability to create an experience for people through food. He says, “being a chef is like being an artist and the ingredients…are like my canvas and paint.” You can taste the passion in all his food, especially his famous Mac n cheese. Side note: my daughter who only liked Hidden Valley ranch said his ranch was the best ever.
Lush Life Vegan Bakery
Carrie Braddix, Owner
Carrie Braddix remembers clearly when she began her journey in plant based eating.Her son somewhat suddenly developed allergies that could not be explained or treated by a conventional doctor. A naturopath suggested that she change her diet and the path was set for her now wildly successful vegan bakery. She makes baked goods from her family traditions but modified for a vegan lifestyle. Her rum cake is a must, with just the perfect amount of rum to moisten the cake and a delicious creamy frosting. Her fruit pies and crisps are also divine, flaky, fruity and not too sweet!
Ernie’s Kick Sauce
Sandra and Ernie Morris, Owners
Sandra Morris and her mother started the business in 2019, and have been spicing up people’s palates ever since. Hailing from Togo, Ernie and Sandra make a sauce that brings the flavors of their home to Wisconsin. The kick sauce is based on a traditional family recipe made with a savory mix of tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, tangy vinegar, cayenne and lemon juice. This kick sauce offers both flavor and heat (though they make a mild sauce which has almost no heat–perfect for the more timid palates). For now you can find their at the northside market and soon at the Willy Street Coop.