Tisha Crear, Recipe Oak Cliff
Recipe Oak Cliff is a small juice bar and vegan food venue with a big mission: to increase fresh food access to the residents and visitors of South Oak Cliff, Texas. Opened by Tisha Crear in 2017 Recipe Oak Cliff goes beyond serving healthy food, they also have a shared commercial kitchen that they lend to other health food entrepreneurs or use to run classes and workshops.
Where – in what community – do you primarily do your work?
Recipe Oak Cliff is located about a mile from highway I-35 and the Dallas Zoo in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of South Oak Cliff. The juice bar sits on a corner lot on Ewing Avenue with a view of downtown Dallas above the mature Oak Cliff trees. The demographic of people in our community ranges from teachers and other workers on lunch, families grabbing dinner, friends having a post-workout smoothie, vegan food seekers and visitors from out of town. Our customer base defies the stereotypes of who wants fresh foods and where people travel to get it.
What gets you going each day and inspires your current work?
Inspiration comes from the testimonials of our neighbors and customers about the transformative health benefits of having access to fresh food and juice. Our mailman grabs a fresh drink with his postal delivery and shared that this has helped to improve his health and lowered his prescribed medication. Contributing to the fresh food needs of the extremely ill to being an access point for a healthy lifestyle, these are the pulse points of motivation that inspires Recipe’s work.
Recipe Oak Cliff is a delicious food security project that stands as an example of a locally owned property in a neighborhood stalked by large developers. We are motivated to continue to represent the needs, potential, and power of the local residents.
When you work in your community, what are the most valuable assets of the community that you experience aside from real estate and money?
Recipe Oak Cliff provides valuable space as one of the few active properties on its block of mostly abandoned and vacant properties. Recipe Oak Cliff is a safe place to gather and nourish.
Similar to low-to-mid income neighborhoods across the USA, there is limited access to fresh food in this neighborhood. Recipe Oak Cliff reflects the rich cultural food traditions of the surrounding African American and Latinx demographic, as well as the global vegan, raw/live food, plant-based community.
Our neighborhood is rich with generational property owners, retired and active professionals, independent businesses owners, and others that not only appreciate good healthy food but also find ways to further build positive community development.Neighborhood cleanups, garden plots, new construction, community programs and works from the neighborhood associations and local organizations all actively contribute to the wealth of our community. Recipe Oak Cliff is honored to be apart of the work to strengthen food security in our neighborhood and further develop the quality of neighborhood businesses.
How does your artistic practice inform and/or is integrated into your enterprise?
Recipe Oak Cliff offers plates that we lay out like a canvas of food colors. We use storytelling to highlight the cultural root of plant-based foods and the links of indigenous food history to our modern diets. The food is the springboard to history lessons, cultural connections, and honoring food traditions. We spotlight African food and food from around the world. We serve hibiscus and agua frescas, Italian and Caribbean foods, low country and southern food, that are also vegan, plant-based, raw vegan and alkaline foods.
One of our staple items is hibiscus tea. We serve this refreshing, blood pressure lowering beverage with a note on how this drink is made all over the world and goes by different names. It is called ‘jamaica’ in Mexico, ‘sorrel’ in Jamaica, ‘bissap’ in Senegal - just to name a few. In this way, we link new and familiar flavors to wellness and culture.
What is the impact of your work on your community? Today? Over a long period of time?
Recipe Oak Cliff is an initial brick & mortar model that followed a 2-year series of PopUp markets. This series activated vacant spaces in southern Dallas with creative and cultural businesses. The PopUp markets featured vegan food, fresh juice, wellness services, literacy / educational products, cultural retail, and performance. They both proved and filled the need for good local businesses to occupy unused space. We also did a summer series of Friday night PopUp juice bars in a local beauty shop as a prequel to opening the storefront.
Currently in its third year, Recipe Oak Cliff continues to serve fresh food in a food desert while also supporting a dozen local emerging vegan food businesses with space to host classes, dinners, prep food and shared food establishment permit for events.
We aim for our block to grow into a hub of locally owned creative and cultural businesses. It is our purpose to impress upon our community the possibility of healthy business in ‘blighted’ neighborhoods. We hope to incubate and launch more business and that our work activates a movement for collective local investment in responsible property development.
The Nitty Gritty
When was your organization or project founded?
What is your staffing situation like?
We are a mostly family operated business with a head chef and manager.