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GoFundMe comes to Madison, celebrates success of JustVeggiez

Not another round to raise money but a celebration of support from the community. Execs from crowdfunding platform GoFundMe came back to Just Veggiez Tuesday to celebrate the success and community support the restaurant has seen after it opened its storefront earlier this year.

James Bloodsaw with execs from GoFundMe. Photo by Omar Waheed.

Just Veggiez, 540 State St., opened its doors in May this year after starting a GoFundMe campaign in February to move from catering and popups to a physical location. James Bloodsaw, owner and founder of Just Veggiez, has been operating as a catering business since 2018 following the death of his father from chronic health conditions. He was inspired to merge his passion for cooking and desire to make healthier choices in his own life with his restaurant — and Madisonains noticed it.

As the business grew, along with praise from people all over Madison, he sought to expand by opening his own restaurant to meet demands of the people. His GoFundMe campaign raised $12,291 with over 200 donations to open his restaurant.

“From a GoFundMe standpoint, it’s been really incredible to see the support that has poured in from his community, from his customers and from those who just want to support a local business,” said GoFundMe spokesperson Angelique McNaughton. “I think it’s really a powerful thing when somebody asks us for help, and it takes a lot of strength to do that.”

Members of Bloodsaw’s family made use of the photo booth. Photo courtesy GoFundMe.

Just Veggiez, in conjunction with GoFundMe, held a celebration at the restaurant and spread the word for new, potential customers.

“They [GoFundMe] were asking me ‘Is this okay? Do you want to do this?’ and I was like ‘Uh, yes,’” Bloodsaw said. “I was excited from the sheer support from the community for the Just Veggiez family.”

Attendees of the celebration were given free vegan tacos and cupcakes from Just Veggiez. GoFundMe brought out merchandise, set up a photobooth and a gumball machine with kind words of affirmation to celebrate World Kindness Day, which was Nov. 13.

The celebration brought out new and existing customers to Just Veggiez. Lauren Wendland, a first-time customer at the restaurant, came with Maddy Hilsenhoff, who has tried Just Veggiez via DoorDash before, to try out Bloodsaw’s restaurant. The duo tried the free tacos and ordered additional food.

“I’m not vegetarian or vegan or anything. It’s just interesting to try something vegetarian or vegan… but flavors are interesting, and I didn’t expect it to be,” Wendland said. “I thought, ‘am I eating chicken? What is this?’”

The celebration is part of GoFundMe’s larger celebration for World Kindness Day and its winter activities to support small businesses. GoFundMe is going to other local businesses that received resounding support from communities in San Francisco, Austin and New York.