When the pandemic hit, the restaurateurs behind Philly’s UnSoul Food hit back harder
UnSoul Food in Pennsport finally opened its doors to the public on Jan. 20, 2021.
Bryon and Natasha Dockett, owners of the brand new restaurant, UnSoul Food, grew up in Philadelphia and were raised on comfort foods like fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and collard greens.
They later on thought that these delicious foods should have a healthier twist.
“We took our southern heritage and wanted to try something different,” Byron said.
They had the idea of opening their establishment for many years but were finally able to do so on Jan. 20, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were so used to being on the go before the pandemic started, we were just really eager to get back to doing something that we really wanted to do,” Dockett explained.
It was also a question of whether or not to give up on a dream.
“‘Do we give up on our dream? Or do we continue?’” said Natasha. “We both decided that absolutely nothing is going to stop us, we’re gonna hit back.”
The Docketts managed to open their own restaurant without the help of any government funds.
“We applied for small business grants and SBA loans, they had special requirements where you had to be in the business for two years,” he said.
Instead, their customer base referred them to the Discover Eat it Forward Sweepstakes, with a hefty cash prize if voted the winner.
The prize was solely based on customer satisfaction, and the prize was worth $25,000.
The Docketts called the sweepstakes a “blessing.”
“The Discover Eat it Forward Sweepstakes gave us a chance of a lifetime, I am forever grateful that our customers pulled off a surprise like that,” said Byron.
At that point, they knew that Philly was rooting for their restaurant to open.
“We saw this as an opportunity to go harder, we are doing everything we can to achieve this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said.
Although indoor dining is slowly coming back, the business duo doesn’t have any plans to open up for the service. Instead, they offer safe and contactless delivery.
“Even though the restrictions allow people to eat in, we want to put customer safety and health, and public health before anything else,” said Byron.
They also avoid the delivery charges from apps like GrubHub and UberEats by hiring their own delivery drivers.
UnSoul Food has been a long time coming for the Docketts, who were once homeless. As a result, they know the importance of having a job.
Now, they want to be the creators of those jobs.
“One of our biggest goals is to help create jobs for the ones who need it most, a job makes a difference between dinner or starving,” they expressed.
The duo is still trying to wrap their heads around the success and support they are receiving from their customers.
“We’re still humbled and amazed that our community is giving us a chance at delivering vegan-based comfort food,” Byron said.
The restauranteurs are offering many vegan foods to choose from, like handmade seitan “meats” that they make beyond cheesesteaks with, award-winning mac and “cheese,” and their very own sweet potato cinnamon rolls, which is also a nod to their southern roots.
“Sweet potatoes are a staple down south so we wanted to incorporate that and add our own touch,” said Byron. “They also ended up selling out by 6 p.m. on our first day.”
This inspirational couple is another example of strength and determination that’s risen from the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to lead going forward.
Please support UnSoul Food by checking out their menu.