Over the weekend, Trio Plant-Based—the only Black-owned vegan restaurant in Minnesota—handed out 300 free vegan soul bowls to protestors in Minneapolis marching for justice for George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by Derek Chauvin and three other ex-police officers on May 25. Throughout the protests, owner Louis Hunter—a cousin of Philando Castile, another Black man slain by police officers in 2016—has taken action to support his community, including by closing the restaurant to protect his employees and stand in solidarity with the protests and handing out hand sanitizer to keep protesters safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While safeguarding his restaurant and offering refuge to journalists over the weekend, Hunter was confronted by armed police on camera, one of whom taunted him with a can of gas while another officer tried to get him to emerge from his restaurant.

Hunter founded Trio on principles tied closely to the Black Lives Matter movement, having himself experienced wrongful arrest while protesting for justice. In 2016, after a Black Lives Matter protest for Castile in Minnesota, Hunter was wrongly arrested on several felony riot charges and taken to jail. For two years, Hunter fought to dismiss the charges and received help from local couple Sarah and Dan Woodcock in organizing an effort to have them dismissed. In 2018, Hunter and the Woodcocks opened Trio as a community space that serves plant-based food and is operated mostly by people of color who are paid a fair wage and not excluded from employment based on criminal history. “We have never been shy about our anti-racist positions,” Hunter said. “The truth is that Black Lives Matter is part of our foundation.”

In 2019, the Woodcocks wanted to close Trio but Hunter was not ready to let it go and took it over as the sole owner. Trio has set up a GoFundMe crowdsourcing page to help Hunter in continuing to navigate challenges as a Black business owner. “Owning a restaurant is already a challenging endeavor,” the restaurant stated on its funding page. “However, in addition to the traditional challenges, Louis has had to contend with being an African-American man who has had contact with the criminal justice system in a state that has some of the worst racial disparities in the nation between Blacks and Whites. This includes disparities in lending practices by the major banks.”

The restaurant is now working to safely reopen to the public in order to continue serving the community dishes such as BBQ Jackfruit Fries, Mac Attack Burgers, and Soul Food Platters.  

Trio Plant-Based is located at 610 W Lake St Minneapolis, MN.

Photo Credit: Trio Plant-Based

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