How one couple overcame homelessness to inspire plant-based soul food spot in South Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philly natives Bryon and Natasha Dockett are living examples of perseverance and overcoming life adversities.

In 2015, the couple experienced homelessness living in an RV, spending weeks at a time without electricity, gas, or running water.

"Once my wife found a job, and then I found two jobs, we were working a total of three jobs," said Bryon Dockett, co-owner of UnSoul Food. "We could finally afford an apartment."

After finally finding a place to live, the couple donated their RV then moved to New Jersey, where they stayed on the 9th floor of an apartment unit.

But the Docketts felt like something bigger was missing.

"I was working every day. I was leaving one job, and I had 30 minutes to be at the other job," added Bryon. "One day, while working one of my jobs, I received a sign which I considered to be a sign from God."

The couple decided to leave everything they owned, including their car, at Philadelphia Greyhound Bus station in Center City.

This journey began with a 13-hour one-way ticket to Israel. In which the Docketts referred to as a leap of faith.

"We learned a lot more about vegan food and how the body works. It was a big experience for us," said Natasha Dockett, co-owner of UnSoul Food.

The Docketts would soon learn the Israel culture and ways to cook plant-based foods.

This journey provided them with a sense of purpose, which brought back their childhood culinary instincts.

But it wasn't immediately a happy ending, once the Docketts decided to return to Philly.

They both got new jobs but, Bryon said, "we were on the hamster wheel all over again."

After reflecting on his past, Bryon thought of a Philly mentor who helped him find his direction.

"KeVen Parker, who ran Ms. Tootsie's, God rest his soul, he gave me my first job out of culinary school, and he trained me," Bryon said. "Every time we're in the kitchen together, we reflected on all those lessons."

From their travels in Israel and their community support, these now turned vegan chefs have recently opened a plant-based southern cuisine spot called UnSoul Food in South Philadelphia on the corner of 4th and Moore streets.

"When we had our GoFundMe, we just started, not knowing what it would accumulate," said Natasha. "Over time, it accumulated like up to $10,000."

After hosting pop-up events that led to selling platters, these new business owners say they are truly inspired to make an impact in their community.

"It just went to show us that the community is just beautiful," Natasha added.
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