Plant-based pop-up offers healthy cuisines in North Mpls
Mykela Jackson aka “Keiko” is on a mission to help others improve their health. She is the owner of Keiko’s Kitchen, a plant-based, pop-up restaurant located in North Minneapolis. The place is known for its flavorsome and healthy cuisines.
Jackson grew up in South Minneapolis. She attended Ramsey Elementary, Washburn High School, and graduated from South High School in 2016.
She said, “I graduated high school and then went to Chicago to stay with a friend, and they were vegan—after two months, I became fully vegan and then came back home.” When Jackson returned to Minneapolis she adhered to a vegan diet.
“After a while, six months, I noticed I got tired of eating salads, so I just started looking more into cooking,” Jackson said. She desired more vegan options. As a result, Jackson formulated an array of unique and nutritious dishes.
Jackson said, “When I first transitioned to vegan—after looking into the alkaline diet and taking the alkaline herbs and seeing the benefits and watching alkaline cooking recipes—I ended up starting Keiko’s Kitchen.” Now, she aims to help others become conscientious about their overall health and it starts with food.
There’s a special purpose behind KK. Jackson said, “My business started as me wanting people to pretty much learn how to cook vegan.” She added, “It blossomed more into me trying to bring affordable and accessible food systems into the community,” due to the food desert in the Twin Cities.
Jackson noted the difference between plant-based and vegan diets. “A plant-based diet is exactly what it says—your diet consists mainly of plants. You typically transition to plant-based when you’re more in it for your health,” Jackson explained. “They’re basically the same basis, no meat, no dairy [but] vegan tends to be more processed than plant-based,” she added.
Keiko’s Kitchen was established in 2019. Jackson had a plan for her new business venture. She recalled, “I remember my mom told me if I was serious about it to go register myself, get a bank account, and she would give me $1,000 to start.” After Jackson completed the tasks, she began working with a local organization to launch her food business.
Jackson decided to acquire help and business assistance from NEON (Northside Economic Opportunity Network). “I worked with Ann Fix [of NEON Food],” and the guidance was very helpful. Jackson learned priceless lessons that helped her maximize productivity.
The KK pop-up enterprise was launched in North Minneapolis. “My first pop-up was at Breaking Bread, April 8, 2019, and from there—once people started coming to the pop-ups—it got bigger,” Jackson said. The collectivism and support from the community helped launch her wonderful pop-up kitchen.
An important key to success is having a positive mindset. “You’ve got to have dedication and passion for what you want to do—dream it as big as you want it to be,” said Jackson.
She further explained, “Shaping your business model to work for you—once you start noticing that’s not what you really want and have passion for other things, just pursue those.” Jackson emphasized, “Everything you need is right in front of you—make sure you’re grinding and setting time aside.”
Furthermore, customers can expect many flavorful food options at Keiko’s Kitchen. Jackson said, “I create a lot of culturally diverse foods, but the main thing is fried oyster mushrooms—that’s a chicken replacement.” She also prepares a delicious portobello mushroom steak.
Jackson said, “I’ve done alkaline cornbread, sea moss mac and cheese, blueberry pancakes, strawberry waffles—everything is made from scratch and with love.” All of the products on the menu are high-quality and affordable. The price range is from $5-$12.
A plethora of mouthwatering desserts are also available at the popular KK. “I make edible cookie dough balls, mango chili ice cream, brownie dates dipped in chocolate, cookies, lemon coconut bars,” Jackson said. She also offers catering.
Operating a business can be challenging and rewarding. “On my journey, there wasn’t a lot of doubt, but when those doubts come, just being able to redirect it and just know everything happens for a reason,” Jackson said. She remains focused on her purpose of living by example.
There are rewarding aspects to running a business. Jackson joyfully exclaimed, “The best thing is just being there for people in the community and being able to help!” She enjoys using her business to make a positive impact in the lives of others.
Jackson advises budding entrepreneurs and young people to “do it, whatever you want to do, do it! The money is gonna come and the money is gonna go. As soon as you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, everything will align.” She added, “Social media is a powerful tool so use it wisely.”
Jackson also emphasized the importance of supporting Black-owned businesses: “Everything comes from Black people—we’re all-natural hustlers and trying to get it. If people are out here putting the work in, give credit where it’s due.”
For more info, visit Keiko’s Kitchen at www.keikoskitchen.us or call 612-806-8184.
Ashley Lauren is a contributing writer at the MN Spokesman-Recorder.