By Ryan Velez
Many people may think of Felicia from Friday when they see Angela Means, but she is actually pretty accomplished in the entertainment world outside of that role. Not only has Means opened for names like Chris Rock, Jamie Foxx, and Sinbad, she also walked the runway for Jean-Paul Gaultier and Betsey Johnson. It’s her latest venture that LA Weekly caught up with her to talk about - a plant-based restaurant called the Jackfruit Café.
“All I can say is that the spirit led me. And now I have a vegan cafe in the ’hood." A plant-based diet is nothing new to Means. As a kid, she was a vegetarian, and she became a vegan later in life. However, it wouldn’t be a few years ago that the idea struck her to turn her love of cooking into a business. When her son was born, Means stopped going after acting roles to focus on being a parent, and when he got older, she started looking for cooking gigs. This turned into becoming a personal chef, which turned into preparing her own line of raw puddings and desserts. She started selling them at RAWkin Juice in Burbank, where she’s now a shareholder.
Last year, she found a King’s Donuts location that wasn’t even for rent, but she decided to pursue it, opening Jackfruit Café on Sept. 1.The reception was positive. People were like, ‘Oh my God, thank you. Where have you been?’” she says. “People are waking up now, watching films like What the Health. A lot of younger people are getting their older relatives to come in.”
Means calls her cuisine soul food, and the global influences are clear. The Thai green curry jackfruit is rich with coconut milk and garlic and galangal. There are Jamaican jerk flavors and plays on Korean barbecue. Jackfruit itself is the perfect avenue for this type of food, as despite its name, it’s not overly sweet, and has a consistency similar to pulled pork or crab. At 54, Means is still hard at work with the restaurant, often putting in 13 to 14-hour days, seven days a week. Her schedule is a natural fit with that of the doughnut maker, who comes in for the night just as she's closing up. She also says she couldn’t be happier with the venture: “I leave here and I can’t wait to get back. I love what I’m doing.”