The pandemic pushed restaurant owners to their financial, emotional and mental limits. But from that same chaos rose a young, diverse slate of Omahans who either opened their own food businesses after March 2020, or found new meaning behind why they make their meals while in the COVID-19-induced solitude.

Throughout the month of July, The Reader and El Perico will highlight four Omahans and their local food businesses. Each week will bring a new story about the visionary leaders behind Little Ve’s, Grainolia, Ital Vital Living and Nice Rollz.

From left to right: Obed Sanchez of Grainolia, Kristina Lee of Nice Rollz, Imani Murray of Ital Vital Living and René Guzmán of Little Ve’s. Graphic by Chris Bowling.

As many young BIPOC Omahans flee the city to seek opportunities elsewhere, these entrepreneurs decided to put roots down in Omaha and build businesses within their communities. Their food doesn’t just reflect culinary invention, but pays homage to their families’ stories and finds solutions to static issues facing Omahans, such as accessing good, nutritious meals.

René Guzmán and his vegan Latin food at Little Ve’s.

René Guzmán, creator of Little Ve’s, Photo by Nat Ogura.

Imani Murray and her family explore their Jamaican roots and healthy, accessible food through Ital Vital.

Obed Sanchez-Liborio makes beauty from scarcity and struggle through Grainolia.

Obed Sanchez-Liborio sits in the dining room of his former Grainolia restaurant. Photo by Chris bowling.

Check back here each week for new stories of community investment through food and entrepreneurship in Omaha.

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