[EDITOR'S NOTE — Each week, this feature section, “Movers and Makers,” will feature the stories of the movers, launchers, entrepreneurs and makers who contribute to the vitality of the Mahoning Valley. This section is supported by our first community partner, Farmers National Bank.]
YOUNGSTOWN — Cosmic Kitchen, a vegan restaurant, opened last month with an emphasis on recipes that will fuel the mind, body and overall spiritual wellness.
Owner Meeluvh Iman runs the operation, located at 2838 Mahoning Ave., with the help of her mother, Ruqayya Jaaber. Iman’s focus is on alkaline and raw vegan recipes, and Jaaber’s influence comes into play with her twist on homestyle cooking favorites like vegan versions of roast, ribs and fish.
“We are here to serve all people … even the people who aren't vegan but curious about it, or who want to be vegan but are afraid to give up their meat,” Iman said. “Just to [show] that they can still eat good and not eat animals.”
Additionally, Iman also owns Meeluvh’s Secret Garden, a holistic health and wellness boutique.
“I started off really educating people on mind, body and spiritual wellness and to me, food was very much in the works of that,” she said. “Also I've always had a pretty decent social media presence and when I would post my vegan foods people would go crazy, like, ‘You should sell this. You should serve this’ and stuff like that.
“So I just started really trying to put that in the works — and here we are.”
Cosmic Kitchen currently has a rotating menu with a daily choice of smoothies, wraps, soups and to-go items like raw cereal, overnight oats and garden salad. Iman said she plans to expand the menu as the restaurant grows.
“It was important to me to have things that people could get on the go. I know that the average American is a working American so they don't have too much time,” Iman said.
According to Iman, the most popular menu item, however, is the sea moss cell food smoothies and bowls which “are very nutrient-dense containing 92 of the 102 minerals your body is composed of.”
There’s also been some merging between Meeluvh’s Secret Garden and Cosmic Kitchen, so customers can find crystals, candles, sage and incense for sale in the restaurant as well.
Another nod to Iman’s spiritual background is creative menu item names, like the amethyst smoothie and galaxy wrap.
To those who say a vegan diet isn’t obtainable for inner city residents or residents of a food desert, Iman said, from her perspective as a black woman living in Youngstown, she simply disagreed.
“I’ve been vegan for almost five years and what I noticed is when you eat whole vegan foods it’s very much more affordable than when you're trying to eat a lot of vegan junk food or vegan processed foods,” she said. “We try to make sure at least 85 to 90 percent of everything we serve is organic or natural, which is a little more pricey but it's a heck of a lot cheaper than hospital bills [and] medications from not making your body a priority.”
Overall, Iman said her goal for Cosmic Kitchen was to put something in the inner city that was attainable for everyone, and to expand her teachings of mind, body and spiritual wellness.
Cosmic Kitchen is open Monday through Saturday 11:11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information visit their Facebook page.