We’re at the tail end of February, which means it’s almost the end of Black History Month. But just because the month is nearly over, that doesn’t mean we should stop celebrating Black history and figures. The celebration of Black achievement is not limited to one month.
With the pandemic and everything else that has happened in the last year, it’s as good a time as any to remind people to continue supporting Black-owned businesses.
Supporting Black-owned businesses is important because it helps invest in and strengthen the community; it celebrates Black culture and accomplishments, and it helps fight racial economic disparities. So if you are trying to find some new places to support, here are a few amazing Black-owned businesses that I love in Fresno for you to try out!
When Mike McElroy first made the decision to go vegan, he realized how few vegan options there were in the Central Valley. He would often make trips to LA and the Bay Area just to get some good plant-based food. This is what first inspired him to bring good vegan food to Fresno. McElroy, his brother Joe Ellis, and Robert January founded Planet Vegan.
Planet Vegan sells burgers, fries, sandwiches, and more. Some of their more popular items include their vegan mozzarella sticks by Nodoh in Newport Beach, and the “Chick’n” sandwiches that are housemade by Veggie Fam in Long Beach. But resident chef Robert January says their most popular dish would have to be their Galaxy Fries.
“The Galaxy Fries are one of our biggest sellers and it’s on our ‘Not So Secret’ menu. It’s our golden brown crosscut fries, ground-up patty, grilled onion, two slices of melted cheese, your choice of one of our signature sauces, and we garnish it with cilantro and green onions.”
Sofia Mathis, a Fresno vegan, says that “Planet Vegan has some of the best food I’ve tasted. As a vegan, it can be a bit hard finding fast food on days where I feel like treating myself. The food at Planet Vegan is full of flavor and tastes exactly like non-vegan food! Even my non-vegan friends have admitted it.”
If you are looking to support Planet Vegan and give those Galaxy Fries a try, you can find them at 6375 N. Blackstone Ave. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays from 1-8 p.m. On Sundays, you can find them at 801 E. Main St. in Visalia from 1-7 p.m.
If vegan food isn’t your thing, then this might be the place for you. Back in 2006 when Chicken King first started, it was only a small concessions business. Today, it’s a restaurant in downtown Fresno where you can find good barbeque, southern style, soul food, seafood, and a lot more.
Chicken King is not the first business in the area to serve great fried chicken, but they certainly have the most options. Ribs, wings, gumbo, collard greens, fish, pulled pork sandwiches, cajun shrimp, and of course chicken. And that’s not even the beginning of everything they have.
With all these options, it can be overwhelming trying to decide what you want, but don’t worry. If you decide to play it safe and stick to trying out their chicken, you will not be disappointed. They’re not called Chicken King for nothing.
“Crunchy, juicy, crunchy, juicy. That’s all I could think about during my first bite,” wrote Isa J after their visit to Chicken King. “It’s been quite some time since we’ve enjoyed a plate of good fried chicken and thankfully we found Chicken King while we were in town. The dredge is well-seasoned and the skin is fried to absolute perfection. The skin and breading had that crispy and flakey type of crunch and melted away as I continued to chew. The chicken in itself is flavorful, but not over-spiced so I could taste the chicken for what it is. Thanks for the great meal!”
If any of this is getting your mouth watering, then Chicken King is available for takeout on 1234 Fulton St., or you can order it for delivery through DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Postmates.
Much like Planet Vegan, Tower Blendz was founded because something was lacking in Fresno. When they first opened in the Tower District in 2019, they wanted to bring fresh, healthy food to the community. They noticed that there were very few places that focused on helping people have cleaner, healthier diets.
According to the owner, Antony Ayodele, “We want to educate our customers, spark their interest in healthy food, and motivate them to make a lifestyle change.”
Tower Blendz sells things like salads, drinks, wraps, smoothies, and other great health foods. They even carry meal plans to cater to their customer’s dietary needs. But if there is one thing you should try, it’s their acai bowls.
Anthony Gonzalez, an avid customer of theirs, raves about them. “Tower Blendz is hands down the best acai spot in the area! You can tell that they only use quality ingredients and I love how they give you the option to customize any order to meet your nutritional goals.”
The pandemic has created a lot of challenges for Tower Blendz, as with most businesses. “We’ve dealt with shortages from food vendors, having to close our cafe, hiring and rehiring staff, changing our business model to a more grab and go focused concept,” Ayodele said. “Throughout the pandemic, it has been the love and support of our community that has allowed us to continue to operate and even surpass our own expectations.”
But no matter the challenges, Ayodele promises that Tower Blendz will stay consistent in quality. Currently, Tower Blendz is available for pick-up at 802 E. Olive Ave. and offers no contact delivery.
Lauren Mucker had been working as a consultant for an insurance company for three years when she found her passion for the beauty industry. She had always enjoyed wearing fake lashes, and watching beauty influencers on YouTube only fed this love. So when her job switched to remote work at the beginning of the pandemic and she found herself with extra time on her hands, she decided it was the perfect time to start her own business.
On June 28, MinkxMuck was officially in business, and it’s been thriving ever since. MinkxMuck is a high-quality cosmetics company where you can buy a variety of 100% cruelty-free mink lashes, faux mink lashes, and other lash tools and accessories. Some of the most popular products you will find include the medium/maximum Glam Lashes and the Adhesive Duo Liner.
And, although you can’t get a bite to eat like with the other businesses on this list, Mucker guarantees you will be happy with your order. “We offer the BEST lash strips in the Valley. Customer satisfaction is our #1 priority, so all purchases are processed timely and with care.”
A small business like MinkxMuck born out of nothing but passion shows why it is so important to support Black-owned business. “Most Black-owned businesses usually start from the ground up,” Mucker said. “No big investors, no inheritance, and no business loans from the banks initially. Someone decided to start a business and used a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to make it happen.
“Supporting Black-owned businesses helps create more jobs and opportunities, generational wealth, and builds up the community which is something any person from any ethnicity can benefit from,” Mucker continued.
You can support MinkxMuck at minkxmuck.com, or you can find Mucker and her lashes at the Vintage Me vendors market every Saturday in Tower District!
Supporting Black-owned businesses is an important cause and we should all make an effort to do it more, not just one month a year. So here are other Black-owned businesses in Fresno for you to keep an eye out for throughout the year!
- Chef Paul’s Cafe – 952 F St. (@chefpaulscafe_)
- Take 3 Burger – 1230 Fulton St. (@take3burgers)
- Fresno Gumbo House – 2503 B Blackstone Ave. (@fresnogumbohouse)
- Hot Dog On A Stick – Fashion Fair Mall
- Barb’s Soul Food – barbssoulfood.com
- Weekend Dreams – 4466 W Ashlan Ave. (@weekenddreams)
- Kocky’s – 1231 Van Ness Ave.
- Cookies ‘N’ Things – 1239 Fulton St. (@love__cookiesnthings)
- Fasika – 4712 N Blackstone Ave.
- Yellow Mug Cafe – 1137 E Champlain Dr. (@themugfresno)
- E’s Sol Food – (@essolfood)
- Phil’s Corner Grill – 304 Sunnyside Ave.
- Smokey’s Grill – 2707 N Hughes Ave.
- Bran’s Sweet Treats – (@branssweettreats)
- S&T BBQ Delights – 4965 N Barcus Ave.
- Triumph – 5730 N First St. (@triumphafrican)
- Enthrall You Bites – (@eyb_enthrallyoubites)