The health food store and restaurant mixes culture, community, heath and wellness.
By Jason Lewis
Simply Wholesome has been in the View Park-Windsor Hills community for 35 years, and it is more than a health food store and restaurant. It is a cultural center that provides unique products that strengthens the mind, body and soul.
“We provide love, hope, and community,” manager Apryl Sims said. “We do that through the delivery system of providing nourishing food in our restaurant as well as products in our store that really address our particular customer’s needs.”
The restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The breakfast menu includes omelets, burritos, and pancakes. The lunch and dinner menu features healthy sandwiches, burritos, tacos, enchiladas, salmon, and Caribbean favorites such as jerk chicken, curry chicken, plantain, and meat patties.
The restaurant can work for most people’s diet preferences.
“You can come to Simply Wholesome and everybody can eat,” Sims said. “We have adaptable meals. So you may be a vegan, he’s a vegetarian, and I’m a meat eater. But all of us can find something suitable for our needs here.”
The bulk of the items on the menu are made in-house to ensure the freshness of the food.
“All of the food here, we make it here fresh,” Sims said. “We’re not warming up prepackaged food.”
While the items on the menu are made to be healthy, there is an emphasis on making the food tasty, which the customers appreciate.
“Everything on the menu has to pay the rent,” owner Percell Keeling said. “We’ve mixed and matched over the years, and we’ve come up with a pretty good formula. Everything you see on the menu, it’s moving out of here.”
Also on the menu is a wide range of smoothies that are made with fresh fruits, herbs, vitamins, and protein powder.
Adjacent to the restaurant is the health food store that has a unique produce section, and dry food options as well as groceries, vitamins and herbal supplements. The store also has beauty, hair, and skin care products that are geared toward African Americans.
“We have a nice niche that we have created where we have products that really address us,” Sims said. “We have haircare products that started here, now they’re available all over the world. Made for us by us. We have other herbal supplements that are made specifically for our bodies. We have lotions and body care products that are made specifically for us.”
“We have 85 African American vendors that we deal with from across the United States,” Keeling said. “I don’t think there is any other business in this country that has that many African American products in their facility that they deal with on a regular basis. We support a lot of black businesses, and we recycle those dollars.”
Simply Wholesome is an independent business, so Keeling and Sims can easily bring in new products, opposed to franchise stores that have to obtain a higher level of approval to sell a product. There are a number of vendors, with excellent natural products that cater to people of color, who are not large enough to get their products on the shelves of mainstream retail stores, but those vendors found a home at Simply Wholesome.
“We’re a bit of a business incubator,” Sims said. “People have come to us with a raw product, and said ‘I’ve been giving this product to my friends and family for years, and somebody told me that maybe I should try to put it on the shelf.’ We’ve tried it and were like ‘wow, this is pretty good.’”
The store also sells books and literature about heathy ways of living and financial literacy.
The venue, which sits on the corner of Slauson Avenue and Overhill Drive, has an Afrocentric vibe through the use of colors, artwork, and music.
“I would say that Simply Wholesome is like my living room,” Sims said. “When you think about somebody’s living room, that means their home. It’s a part of the house where they lounge, they relax, they share information. That’s the kind of environment that we try to foster here at Simply Wholesome.”
Many customers have felt a sense of belonging when they enter Simply Wholesome’s doors.
“This is kind of like home,” Keeling said. “A lot of people gravitate to Simply Wholesome and share the vision. A lot of times we’re closing up and customers will help us. Where else does that happen? Most people go to a business, get what they want and then they leave. They don’t have that community feel where they want to make sure that you’re okay and that you’ll be here tomorrow.”
Simply Wholesome has also created employment opportunities for people in the community.
“We give our people a sense of pride,” Sims said. “You look around and you see our people working. We give opportunities to young people. We give opportunities to people that may of had some challenges and made some mistakes in the past. Most people will tell them no because of corporate structures. Humans make mistakes, I’ve made mistakes. Some people have given me second chances. So we’re able to service our people like that.”
This restaurant and health food store has been a vital part of the community since 1981, and it has enhanced the quality of life and the health of their customers. For more information about Simply Wholesome, contact them at (323) 294-2144, or visit their website at www.simplywholesome.com