Jacob Bell and Tom McCann are not just business partners. The men are cousins, friends and most importantly, together they share a passion for a plant-based diet. It all started when Bell was drafted by the Tennessee Titans to play professional football and McCann was a personal chef taking time to experiment in the kitchen on how to create tasty plant-based cuisines. Both saw incredible changes in their health after changing their diet and wanted to share this knowledge with others.
That time came when Bell ended his football career, and in 2013 the duo decided to open the doors to Sol Cal Cafe in East Village. Everything on the menu is pressed, squeezed, ground, puréed, mixed, chopped and churned in house and made with organic, local, GMO-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan and unrefined ingredients. Now everyone can enjoy their fresh pressed juices, veggie burger, loaded sweet potato or zucchini pasta.
Q: If you could have a superpower what would it be and why?
McCann: Is love a super power? I would like the infinite ability to love myself and everyone in which I come in contact with. To me, community and collaboration is the ultimate source of strength.
Bell: My superpower would for sure be to be able to disappear and reappear. No, not invisible. No, its not teleporting. I would like to disappear and become familiar with the unfamiliar. To find out what it is that lies on the other side. To put myself into any situation I chose at any given time. To be able to see more of this beautiful planet and share more time with our brothers and sisters. I would like to be able to reappear wherever I chose with different perspectives and be able to make wiser decisions with bigger impacts.
Q: Motto you try to live by everyday?
McCann: My late grandmother inscribed a card to me on my 22nd birthday, it read: "Anything worth doing is worth doing well." It remains a motivation for my actions.
Bell: Maximize humanity in every way possible, and enjoy doing it.
Q: Favorite product or juice you serve at Sol Cal and why?
McCann: It is like choosing a favorite child, but the item in which I find most pride is Lettuce Cup Tacos. An innovative, raw version of the local favorite. Taco Today is what I like to say.
Bell: I literally can't get enough of our Gluten Free Waffles with Berries and Cream.
Q: Misconception people have about a vegan cafe?
McCann: The biggest misconception about vegan cuisine aside from the obvious "lack of taste" notion is the "where do you get your protein?" Plants have protein! Furthermore, the general societal consumption of protein is abusive. We simply do not need that much protein. Although Jacob has lost the excess playing weight he maintains a very muscular and athletic build.
Bell: There are many misconceptions, but I would say that people think vegan food won't taste good. We made it our first and most important standard to serve the absolute most delicious and yummy food humanly possible.
Q: Best part about co-owning a cafe with a good buddy?
McCann: The best facet of our partnership is the understanding of each other's personality and the ability to empathize at any level. Despite so many similarities, we are very different and our divergence is compelling.
Bell: Best part of owning a cafe with a buddy is that we get to eat our own healthy and delicious free food that we create.
Q: CEO or Company you admire and why?
McCann: It is hard to look past Steve Jobs. His impact on humanity was unimaginative, except to him.
Bell: I admire George Noory of Coast to Coast AM radio and appreciate his passion for telling the stories in the news that are not shared on main stream media. I enjoy the esoteric and controversial subjects that are discussed because they encourage me to think outside of the normal box.
Q: Advice you would give to young entrepreneurs?
McCann: Keep showing up everyday. Nothing good comes easy, show up and put in the work. If you believe in something strongly enough, in time it will happen. Dream widely!
Bell: My advise to young entrepreneurs would to always be excited about what you are doing no matter what it is. If you don't want it nobody else is going to want it for you. You gotta want it!