LIST: 7 Black-Owned Businesses To Pay Attention To In San Diego
Let’s not be coy: when thinking of multiculturalism in San Diego, the conversation is more often than not centered around the experiences of Latinx and Asian communities. It’s a flawed reality that obviously stems from our history and border-adjacent position.
The truth is, however, San Diego has a long, black history stemming all the way back to the early 1800s, even before White American settlement step foot in our region. This can be found even down to the politics of the time, with California’s last Mexican-ruled governor, Pio Pico, being of mixed race. Since, through numerous migrations over time, San Diego has developed large pre-dominantly black communities, filled with bustling businesses, community centers, and institution’s of education and the arts that have taught some of our country’s greatest minds and talents.
As we celebrate Black History Month, it is important to note all the strides made by San Diego’s black community, both historic and in the present. As such, we wanted to highlight seven San Diego black-owned businesses from all industries, including media publications, nationally-renowned restaurants, art centers, health studios, and more. Read up and make sure to get acquainted.
San Diego Voice & Viewpoint
The San Diego Voice & Viewpoint is a 58-year old nationally award-winning publication dedicated to faithfully reporting on news from an African-American perspective and on African-American communities from San Diego, ranging from small church gatherings to major political campaigns. As San Diego's largest African American publication, the San Diego Voice features highlights people and events in a "comprehensive manner," while providing engaging commentary from a variety of perspectives throughout the community.
Available in over 350 newsstands and outlets in convenience stores, the San Diego Voice can be found in all 89 zip codes throughout San Diego and has a subscription base of over 60,000 readers. The publication is currently run by Dr. John Warren, with the prolific Edward Henderson (otherwise known as Amen Rah from the nationally renouned San Diego Poetry Slam team) acting as Digital Managing Editor. Head to your nearest convenience store and pick up a copy or go to their website and read up on all the news consistently being reported by all their great writers.
Coop's West Texas BBQ
Brad "Coop" Cooper, a registered nurse by trade and Texas transplant, worked at Kaiser for over a decade while consistently selling his signature 'BBQ in a Bag' throughout shops around town whenever he had time off. Through this hustle, Coop developed a large following spanning BBQ lovers from San Diego and beyond, all who collectively rejoiced when the 'cue master finally opened up his own joint in 2010. Almost ten years since, Coop's West Texas BBQ has become a top-ranked staple in San Diego and a destination for all tourists who actually know what's up when it comes to real barbecue.
The family-owned business is currently co-run by Coop with his wife Yolanda, while his sister handles operations and daughter works their adjacent venture, Da Chicken Coop. In a 2017 Eater feature, Coop told the publication that the business really began rolling after he tried locally-renowned BBQ spots and realized he could easily surpass all regional expectations. Coop's has since been named Top 3 best BBQ spots in San Diego by Yelp and were ranked in their Top 100 Places To Eat In The Nation list.
World Beat Center
Founded by Makeda 'Dread' Cheatom over three decades ago, the World Beat Center has proven to be one of the most important multicultural arts and event centers in our city, consistently bridging the gaps between communities and creating a space where diversity, learning, culture, and entertainment are all considered pillars of being.
Located in the historically-rich, but predominantly eurocentric Balboa Park, the World Beat Center initially opened in the 1970s after Cheatom and her team proposed to renovate an abandoned 1 million gallon water tower into the cultural center it is now. Now adorned with murals celebrating African and Indigenous cultures, the center boasts regular community events and incredible architectural achievements, including LEED and USGBC Green certification, solar tube lighting fixtures, a fully sustainable recycling and composting program, and the Balboa Park Sustainability Award for Aquaponics.
Roots Up Yoga Flow
Roots Up Yoga Flow is San Diego's only black-owned yoga studio, committed to making instructions affordable and accessible to anyone and everyone who wants to practice. Offering a mobile yoga service, the studio's teachers currently provide instructions to interested participants living in San Diego, Lemon Grove, and Spring Valley. With a deep emphasis on inclusivity in the practice of yoga, Roots Up "seeks to provide opportunity, convenience and personalized attention to those who are reluctant to travel far from home, feel self-conscious and / or excluded whether real or imagined." Unfortunately, their primary studio has closed doors as of February 2019, but announcements on a new location are soon-to-come.
Freshly Faded Barber + Shop
As described by owner, Derrick Banks, Freshly Faded Barber Shop was founded "out of necessity." Banks says, "I opened up the shop because there wasn't a shop in San Diego that would allow me to grow in the person I was becoming. I wanted to accurately display the diversity of African-American culture and provide positive representation of that same culture on a platform that is approachable and welcoming." Open for over five years, Freshly Faded is located in the North Park neighborhood on the corner of El Cajon Blvd. and Utah Street. Along with cuts, Banks says his shop provides a fully immersive experience, including art, music, incense, and philosophical conversations.
Open for over a decade, Reggae World is a staple of North Park that has existed through all of the neighborhoods modern incarnations. From minority-dominant to hipster paradise to bro central, Reggae World has kept it's place cemented in the neighborhood, offering a wide variety of items catering to Reggae roots and culture including incense, oils, natural cosmetics, and Rastafarian literature and accessories. Opening over a decade over by store owner Zulu, the storefront also offers great deals and insight on local reggae shows, as well as a large celebration of reggae DVDs, vinyls and CDs.
Cane Patch Kitchen
Opened in the Liberty Public Market in 2016, Cane Patch Kitchen was opened by Tony Smalls as a way to provide creole classics stemming from a partner's family recipe dating back to the early 1900s. Included in the menu are New Orleans cuisine staples, such as jambalaya, seafood bumo, Po' Boys and fried chicken, along with classic treats such as peach cobbler and beignets. As anyone who lives in this city can attest, authentic Creole cuisine is hard to come by, so when a storefront is able to offer a full menu straight from the Bayou, and still keep it's authenticity preserved, you know it's worth trying.