“I like to feed people good food, entertain and have fun. I’m living out all of my dreams.”
Vegan Mob is an Oakland-based restaurant on a mission to provide nutritious and healthy food with plant-based ingredients. Vegan Mob is owned by Chef Toriano Gordon whose passion is to help surrounding communities by empowering them with food they love and enjoy, while also supporting a healthy lifestyle. Toriano is a dedicated father and husband from San Francisco’s Fillmore District. After dedicating a decade of his life to helping at-risk and formerly incarcerated youth in the San Francisco Bay Area, he decided to pursue his lifelong passion of cooking. Toriano experienced a huge shift in his health and well-being after adopting a plant-based diet and he now feels compelled to share this with others. His menu is comprised of traditional family soul food recipes and barbecue fusion. The Pacific Community Ventures team has been excited to partner with to create good jobs and healthy communities here in the Bay.
“We hire a lot of people from the surrounding community. Our staff consist of natives from Oakland and SF. We hire a lot Black and Brown youth and young adults because we want to make sure that disadvantage can have an advantage. At the end of the night we sometimes even feed the homeless. Soon we want to start a breakfast program for kids here in Oakland.”
Operating two new restaurants during a pandemic might seem like a tall order, but more than anything, Gordon is overwhelmed by a sense of relief. In January, he was able to secure the lease at his Oakland restaurant for another year, which is located inside the former Kwik Way Drive-In, a historic landmark in the Grand Lake neighborhood. Since 2016, there have been plans to demolish the site, transforming it into a housing development, but because of the pandemic, he doesn’t believe that the city is prioritizing redevelopment there.
For now, he said, “I’m going to ride it ‘til the wheels fall off. If it looks like it’s time for us to leave or we come up with a great location, I’ll make that move.”
And Vegan Mob has become such a hit, they’re growing. In 2021 Toriano is opening a takeout- and delivery-only ghost kitchen location in San Jose on Tuesday. In San Francisco, Vegan Mob is slated to park a new food truck in the Mission District.