Galicia Stack Lozano
In honor of Black History Month, we are celebrating Black-owned businesses in San Francisco and featuring these local treasures for our readers to explore.
Rize up, a San Francisco bakery, began baking their delicious loaves in the Spring of 2020. Azikiwee Anderson — owner and head baker — learned to cook at a young age to support his single mother and help feed his siblings.
“Food became a way to show love and became something I was good at, something I could understand. Making other people happy with the food, became a part of who I was.” Anderson told El Tecolote. Following Anderson’s journey through culinary school, he began work as a “knife for hire,” and shortly, before the pandemic, as a private chef.
COVID-19 made his job as a private chef difficult. He began cooking at home, and when the sourdough craze began, he joined in. Anderson had never seen a Black baker before. Like most, his first few loaves were imperfect, but with practice, the loaves became better, and he began to gift them to neighbors.
After George Floyd was murdered in 2020, Azikiwee was left broken-hearted and disappeared into the kitchen for hours baking bread. By finding solace in bread making, he was able to uplift himself and others.
In deciding on a business name, Azikiwee told El Tecolote his inspiration came from the musical Hamilton and the double meaning of its lyrics. When his first loaf rose properly, the lyrics: “You gotta rise up when you livin’ on your knees. You gotta rise up,” played in the background. Taking the double meaning of rising up like dough and rising up against the injustices of society, Anderson transformed the name into Rize up Bakery.
One of Rize Up Bakery’s most interesting qualities is the bread flavors. These are reflective of Anderson’s personal experiences.
“Being Black is undeniably a part of everything I do. The things I think are important, that inspire me are all shaped by my experience,” Anderson shared.
“When I choose to make gumbo sourdough most people are confused. My family’s Christmas tradition is to eat gumbo. I was born down south and that’s a southern tradition. When I make a gumbo loaf for Christmas, it is inspired by a Black southern experience.”
The Cardi B loaf, one containing cardamom and berries was inspired by his love of hip-hop and Filipino friends inspired Anderson’s Ube-flavored bread.
“I have the opportunity to shine a light on things that I think are beautiful. The bread is influenced by my slant on the world.” By taking his life experiences and transforming them into his inspiration for his food, Anderson has created a truly unique bakery.
Anderson believes surrounding one’s self with others that are succeeding is vital. “If you don’t have anyone to help you, you can give up on your dream, but if you surround yourself with other people who know how to do it, and can help you, it can help you believe in yourself,” he said.
Currently, one of Rize Up Bakery’s other unique features is its Pay it Forward program which donates loaves to homeless shelters, battered women shelters, and senior centers. Azikiwee will continue giving back to the community.
“I would love to start some sort of nonprofit or accreditation program where I could train bakers of color and teach the people what I’ve learned, maybe with some scholarships. I don’t know many black bakers or bakers of color in general, if I could change that and make it so that there were hundreds of people like me doing really amazing things that would be great.”
Another business to try is El Nuevo Frutilandia, a Puerto Rican/Cuban restaurant in the Mission of San Francisco. First established 60 years ago, the restaurant was purchased by Rafael and Tyrisha Frias and located at 3077 24th St. The shop, originally a batido (smoothie) shop, sold ice cream and fruit shakes. The shakes and cold treats have since been exchanged for mouth-watering tostones (twice-fried plantain slices), maduros (fried sweet plantains) and everything else you could want in a Cuban/Puerto Rican restaurant.
El Nuevo Frutilandia is the Frias’ first foray into restaurant ownership, but because Rafael ate at the restaurant when he was younger, it’s a special one. Although Tyrisha isn’t Cuban, she became interested in Cuban culture through salsa dancing, and her travels to Cuba. Taught by the previous owner with the help of abuelitas, she was shown the recipes for the food. By employing others to learn the recipes, El Nuevo Frutilandia has continued to operate with authentic home-cooked meals that all Puerto Riqueños and Cubanos could relish.
When asked about her most rewarding experiences as a business owner Frias shared that she feels a strong sense of pride in how they have transformed the restaurant. In 2016, the restaurant was featured on Food Network with Guy Fieri. This gave the restaurant a boom in business and also reaffirmed the restaurant’s place in the San Francisco dining scene.
“Lots of people on the West Coast know what a taco or burrito is, but nobody knows Cuban and Puerto Rican dishes that are super popular. When people come to Frutilandia and learn about what [is], and how Mofongo is made, it is definitely rewarding,” Frias said.
To Frias, being a Black business owner is a ‘huge opportunity for women, and people of color, and local San Franciscans.’
“There are not a lot of black and brown people that live in our neighborhood. Or if they do, they’re in certain areas. So it’s gratifying to be able to say, Hey, I’m a Black business owner, my husband’s Latino and we’re part of our community,” Frias told El Tecolote.
“When it comes to a restaurant, reviews are important, and listening to what others have to say and taking constructive feedback can be really helpful.”
Puerto Rican food is often scarce on the West Coast and there aren’t more than a handful of restaurants that serve the rich cuisine around the Bay Area. El Frutilandia offers true Puerto Rican and Cuban food and in the process, a sense of home to West Coast Caribeños.
The Sun Spot CBD, named after the ‘feeling on a sunny day and the sun’s healing properties’, is a CBD Wellness business located in the Mission. The owner, Reggie Wise began selling CBD-related products online in July of 2021, and later was able to open his store on 21st street.
Reggie Wise and his longtime friend, Mirna Jiron, are both Mission and San Francisco locals. Mirna, who has worked in pharmaceutical jobs, is also a chef and is currently collaborating with Reggie to release their own brand of CBD products.
Wise, who began his journey with CBD through his interest in Rasta culture, first heard of cannabis being described as the “herb that was healing the nation.” As time went on, Wise learned of the medical and clinical research being done that has shown the medicinal benefits of the plant.
Wise explained how, contrary to the negative stigma that is often brought along with cannabis, there are many different ways that CBD can provide aid and relief to one’s body. Wise explained that the purpose of the Sun Spot is, “to, keep you healthy.”
“We’re just out here trying our best to keep folks healthy,” he said.
The store has even been referred to as the “GMC of CBD.” From edibles to CBD bath and body products and more, the store has a wide variety of items.
A lot of the work that both Jiron and Wise do as a part of the store is keeping people informed on the benefits of CBD. Being established in the Mission allows Sun Spot to provide education to many San Franciscans and Mission locals about the positive effects of CBD.
At times, Jiron and Wise even sit outside of the shop to provide information to those who might be curious. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Jiron also offers her bilingual skills to translate to some of the Mission locals who don’t speak English but are interested in their products.
“The best thing that anybody could do, realistically, outside of everything I’ve learned so far, is just get started. It’s never going to be perfect. Because once you get started, it makes you take the next step,” advised Wise.
Sun Spot CBD is blazing a trail by providing CBD products and educating locals on the medicinal effects of cannabis in the Mission.
If you’re interested in placing an order or purchasing a subscription for artisanal loaves with Rize Up Bakery please visit the website. If you would like to try a delicious plate of Ropa Vieja please visit El Nuevo Frutilandia at 3077 24th St. If you are curious to explore an array of CBD-infused products please visit the Mission storefront at 3186 21st St.
Happy Black History Month!
RIZE UP BAKERY
EL NUEVO FRUTILANDIA
3077 24th St, San Francisco
THE SUN SPOT CBD
3186 21st St, San Francisco