When Chenelle Bragg opened Best of Both Souls — now called The Rooted Vegan — at The City Kitchen in early 2020, she didn’t envision one day being one of Charlotte’s most popular food truck owners.
Bragg, who transitioned to a plant-based diet after experiencing illness related to meat and dairy products, said she noticed that many local vegan options were in Charlotte.
“I live in Huntersville, and that is a long way to go for a meal. So, when I started eating plant-based, I had to make my own food.”
Later, she opened Best of Both Souls alongside her daughter Amariana, who was a chef in the U.S. Army. Together, Bragg and her daughter helped introduce a new vegan food option to Charlotte’s west side.
“We opened at the start of the pandemic, which was crazy in itself,” Bragg said. “We were successful in part because people were tired of being locked in their homes. They wanted to get out – even if it was just to pick up food.”
However, when the world reopened after the COVID shutdown, business for Best of Both Souls declined, and Bragg had to close the business.
She said she initially felt like a failure but didn’t let the feeling linger.
“Being an entrepreneur isn’t for the weak,” Bragg said. “You have to be determined, focused, organized and resilient. I can’t tell you how much I’ve cried since 2020,” she told QCity Metro, laughing.
New wheels, new beginnings
After shuttering her space at The City Kitchen, Bragg returned to her previous role as an insurance agent to begin building capital for the next phase of her business – something she said she wasn’t equipped with when she first opened Best of Both Souls.
A lifelong baker and passionate cook, Bragg couldn’t stay away from the kitchen. Despite having to close, she said she was destined to share the gospel — and fun — of plant-based eating with others.
“Entrepreneurship is hard,” Bragg said. “One thing I wish I knew before jumping into this, especially in the food industry, is to start with working capital because you just never know what your money will look like. At The City Kitchen, it was easier to prepare food, but my overhead was high – we had to pay for a space,” she added as she recalled early challenges in her business journey.
“Now that I have my trailer – I have capital, and now The Rooted Vegan is more accessible to the community. I should’ve got a food truck from the beginning!”
Bragg said she feels blessed to have a second chance to live her dream as an entrepreneur. She’s also grateful for the support of her family, who helped expand the reach of the business. Her daughter invested in The Rooted Vegan, and her son, Alijah, helps cook.
A name change
When Bragg first opened Best of Both Souls, she said there was confusion about its name. Customers would often visit under the assumption that the menu catered to both vegans and non-vegans alike, which wasn’t the case.
So she changed the name.
“The Rooted Vegan came from me wanting to get more grounded in the community – I wanted to put down roots. At least for a little while,” she said.
Bragg said she wants to move to Las Vegas in the future because of its weather and growing vegan food scene, but said she is committed to taking care of Charlotte while she’s still here.
Customers can find The Rooted Vegan and Bragg’s team serving popular items like the Nashville hot chick’n sandwich — a sweet-heat kind of sandwich –, oyster mushrooms, vegan shrimp, and sweet chili cauliflower. Newer menu items, such as cold-pressed juices, carne asada fries, and a smash burger bowl, are also available.
“If you loved Best of Both Souls,” Bragg said, “you’ll also love The Rooted Vegan. I put the same love into the food!”
The Rooted Vegan food truck operates regularly at Primal Brewing, the Whole Foods Market, and Lowes Foods – all in Huntersville, and can be booked for private events. Bragg also offers meal prep services, catering, and private cooking classes.