Following nearly 40 years of family success serving vegan food in the Puget Sound area, Elizabeth “Miss Quickie” Scott wants to revitalize a corner of the world at 16th and G Streets in Tacoma where the first of several family businesses began.
In 1974, a collective of brothers who owned the store walked away from the business, leaving Elizabeth and her husband James Howell to step in to take responsibility for the SBA loan and store operations.
“We wrote them [the SBA] and told them our situation, and they allowed us the time period to pull ourselves out of the default and put us back on a regular payment schedule,” Elizabeth said. “We got into the grocery store business not knowing anything! But we owed people and had to pay them back, so we just buckled down. Little by little we started putting supplies back in the store until we dug ourselves out of that one. Then the store did relatively well for years.”
Capitalizing on that success, the couple – who were long-time vegans – started selling ready-made meatless sandwiches in their store and to local markets and cafés. In 1987, they bought a building near the grocery store to prepare the sandwiches commercially and it grew into the vegan restaurant, Quickie Too.
Success continued and the family used the Quickie Too building as collateral to secure a loan from Community Capital Development – one of SBA’s lending and resource partners – to open Plum Bistro in Seattle in 2009.
The Seattle market connected with the Plum brand. Plum Bistro added Plum Café – both located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood – and then expanded to Plum Pantry in Seattle Center. The most recent addition is Plum Burger, Seattle’s first vegan food truck which the family made possible through a crowdfunding campaign.
All of the family’s vegan concept restaurants collectively employ approximately 30 people with Elizabeth’s children operating various businesses within the family’s vegan network.
Today, the family still runs a wholesale sandwich business, delivering pre-made vegan sandwiches to different markets around the Puget Sound area.
Oldest daughter Afi runs Quickie Too alongside her mother. Middle daughter Makini runs the Plum brand restaurants in Seattle. And youngest brother Ayinde is a celebrity chef and co-author of the book The Lusty Vegan: A Cookbook and Relationship Manifesto for Vegans and Those Who Love Them.
Makini has showcased the family’s vegan recipes on national television shows including The Today Show, The Queen Latifah Show, and The Talk; and, in her new cookbook Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro.
“We were given an opportunity to realize our dream, home school our children, and bring something to the market that a lot of people like,” Elizabeth said. “I need to thank SBA people for that chance.”
Following the family’s vegan food empire success, Elizabeth has her sights set on rebuilding the Hillside Quickie Tacoma corner grocery store that burnt to the ground in 2009. She envisions the formal historically registered building to be a new center that will include a healthy living store, a yoga space, and a credit union, recognizing “the neighborhood store and its profound influence in the neighborhood.”
“The corner store has always been the place people bring the good things and the bad things,” Elizabeth said. “It’s a steady influence in the neighborhood that kids can expect to be there, people respect what you do – it’s just giving something to the neighborhood that you like as well, that you use as well, but people really do appreciate a corner grocery store.”
For more information about the family’s restaurants, go to www.plumbistro.com