JustVeggiez, a Black-owned vegan restaurant that opened its first brick-and-mortar location on State Street in Madison over the summer, raised more than $12,000 in community support through the crowd-source fundraising platform GoFundMe. To celebrate that success, executives from GoFundMe will join JustVeggiez owner James Bloodsaw at a special event Tuesday, 5-7 pm, at the restaurant at 540 State Street.
“I’m just so excited and appreciative that I get to do this for the JustVeggiez family,” Bloodsaw said in a statement. “I pinch myself all the time when I think about the money we raised through the fundraiser. I can’t wait for tomorrow.”
Tuesday’s event will feature free food, a free hat, photobooth station, and other fun giveaways.
“Our mission is to help people help each other, and we are excited to celebrate the power of people like James asking for help,” GoFundMe Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Margaret Richardson said in a statement. “Seeing the generosity of his community support his dream of opening a restaurant has been inspiring, and we are honored to join him in person to celebrate his success.”
Bloodsaw had already established a nearly 30-year career in the culinary business when his father passed away in 2018.
“He told me not to end up like him,” Bloodsaw said of his father, who passed away after suffering from heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Bloodsaw made a radical change in his own diet and went entirely vegan – and was quickly frustrated by the lack of easy, convenient vegan meals and snacks.
Bloodsaw had already been cooking professionally for nearly 30 years, following in the footsteps of his father, who was the head dietary chef at the VA hospital in Madison. While working as a chef at Upstairs Downstairs Catering, Bloodsaw started creating his own vegan delicacies.
“I was just making stuff and then bringing it to work and having my coworkers try it. I was experimenting on them,” he said.
That experiment was successful enough that he took another step, hosting a booth at the Madison Makers’ Fair as a bigger test.
“If people like it, I’ll start a business,” he thought at the time.
Like it they did, and JustVeggiez became his full-time business soon thereafter.
The Small Business Administration named JustVeggiez Emerging Business of the Year for Wisconsin in April, when Bloodsaw and his team — made up mostly of family members — were still catering out of a shared kitched on Madison’s north side. The restaurant opened to some fanfare in June with the help of a GoFundMe campaign launched in February.
The success of that campaign caught the attention of GoFundMe execs, who scheduled Tuesday’s celebration.