Cynthia Nevels never imagined her journey as a student at Texas Woman’s University would one day lead her to play a pivotal role in establishing the first Black-owned restaurant at her alma mater. Soulgood, created and founded by Nevels, has opened its flagship restaurant at TWU delivering healthier food options to campus and the North Texas community.
The recipe for building Souldgood into an award-winning company was not something Nevels envisioned. Her plant-based cooking journey began after her son was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. As a mother, Nevels was determined to find a way to help her son feel better. “When his health started to deteriorate because of the disease, things got hard for him,” said Nevels. “The only thing I had in my control at the time was what I made or cooked for him.”
She began to think of creative recipes her son would enjoy eating but also aligned with his diet. Family, friends and the hospital staff took notice of her unique take on plant-based food and encouraged her to turn her passion for cooking and culinary abilities into a new business venture.
Eventually, Soulgood was established as a food truck at the Farmer’s Market in downtown Dallas, making it the first organic vegan and vegetarian fast food truck in North Texas. Her unique take on plant-based recipes continued to grow in popularity leading her to expand beyond the food truck concept.
After attempts to launch a restaurant in Dallas near her customer base did not come to fruition, Nevels received a “miracle email” from Dining Services at TWU gauging her interest in bringing her concept to the Denton campus. “It [the email] surprised me, but there’s no better place I would want to be,” recalled Nevels. “It’s like going back home and being able to show other students that something like this is possible.”
Nevels credits her time at TWU as being an important part of her journey and shaped part of who she is today. As a student, her determination to graduate from college while working two jobs and raising kids was reinforced by the support from TWU faculty and staff. Now, she hopes to inspire students who walk through the doors of Soulgood cafe with her story.