By Michelle Richardson
AFRO Arts & Entertainment Writer
Maryland’s first-ever Restaurant Week kicked off last week and there is one restaurant participating that has set out to change minds and capture taste buds.
The Land of Kush, Baltimore’s only vegan-soul food restaurant is hoping to dispel the myth that vegan food is “rabbit food” and with its well seasoned meatless dishes, there is something on the menu for everyone.
“People that like food, if you’re a foodie, as long as the food is good you’ll like it. You’ll be surprised that the majority of people buying our food are not vegan,” said Naja Brown, co-owner of the Land of Kush.
The restaurant is the brainchild of Gregory Brown, a Baltimore native, who wanted to open a vegan restaurant that was relatable to the demographic in Baltimore City.
At the urging of his wife, Naijha, who proposed a vegan soul food concept, the couple started vending at festivals such as Art Scape and 10 years later, they are still serving delicious, healthy meals out of their storefront restaurant located at 840 N. Eutaw Street.
“He [Gregory Brown] always tells the story that a friend was looking for a vegan vendor because other vegan vendors were saying that Black people don’t eat vegan food,” said Brown.
The name, Land of Kush, stems from the ancient African civilization in Ethiopia.
“My husband studies the African diaspora so he wanted to bring this modern type of civilization to Baltimore City so that’s why he named it Kush. We’ve also learned that Kush also means ‘happy’ in India…so the land of Happy. People associate it with marijuana but no, this is what it means,” said Brown with a laugh.
The Land of Kush has been participating in Maryland Vegan Week for three years so getting involved in Maryland Restaurant Week was the obvious next step.
“We made it free this year [MD Vegan Week] because of the COVID-19 pandemic through the Winter and Summer so I wasn’t surprised that Visit Maryland would partner up with the Restaurant Association of Maryland because I am on the board of the Restaurant Association of Maryland, so that’s how we got involved because we knew it was coming stemming from MD Vegan Week,” said Brown.
The Land of Kush, among many other restaurants, was never able to participate in a regular Restaurant Week because they do not offer a three-course menu, prefixed menu.
“A lot of businesses out here that don’t offer three course meals; they are small businesses. So now this opens it up for everyone to participate and everyone gets an opportunity to bring their cuisine to customers,” stated Brown.
For Maryland’s first ever restaurant week, there is no prefixed menu, no course requirements, and no entry fees but Land of Kush is showing customers how to put many of their entrees in a wrap.
Maryland Restaurant Week runs from Sept. 18 – Sept. 27. Be sure to abide by state COVID-19 safety regulations.