Louis Hunter is not just a restauranteur, but he is also a fighter. Within the past five years, Hunter has endured more heartbreaks and setbacks than most have endured in the past twenty years.
On July 6, 2016, Hunter lost his cousin, Philando Castile, during a police encounter. During a traffic stop, Officer Jeronimo Yanez of the St. Anthony Police Department shot and killed Castile in front of his girlfriend and her daughter.
After video emerged of the fatal police encounter, Hunter and others across the country took part in peaceful protests. During a demonstration in Minnesota, Hunter was accused of throwing rocks at nearby police officers. If convicted, he could have faced up to 20 years in prison.
"Facing the 20 years in prison due to something I knew at the time, I did not do. It was one of the craziest experiences in my life," Hunter said.
"My anxiety was everywhere every day."
As Hunter underwent a tenuous legal process, he lost his car and was unable to operate his landscaping business. Ultimately, the charges were dropped a year later, but he had lost an overwhelming amount in the process. Luckily, he came across Dan and Sarah Woodcock along his journey. After the charges were dropped, the Woodcocks helped organize a
"And at that celebration, I remember saying, 'What if this became a turning point in your life?'" Sarah Woodcock recalls asking Hunter.
Shortly thereafter, Hunter and the Woodcocks joined together to hold pop-up soul food experiences in the area. As word of the group's efforts spread, more than 600 people pitched in to raise $50,000 for the growing business. Two years after Castile's tragic killing, Hunter and the Woodcocks opened Trio, a vegan soul food restaurant in Minnesota.
A year after opening, Hunter became the sole owner of Trio, making it the first Black-owned vegan restaurant in Minneapolis. Despite making history, Hunter is far from finished. In May, he helped to pay his blessings forward by donating 300 meals to demonstrators in the area after the death of George Floyd.
"It felt so unreal that Louis Hunter was able to serve the community 300 meals, which I could have been in prison praying for the community, Hunter said.
"Believe in your higher power. Always try to serve your community, your peers, and have faith because I have faith that one day, Black lives will matter. I have faith."
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