Black-owned Soul on a Roll food truck a success story for the formerly incarcerated

Soul On A Roll is a food truck people in Oakland may soon be seeing all over town. And the three people who own the truck and do all the cooking are also on a roll.

"It's amazing. I'm still thinking I'm dreaming. I'm pinching myself right now," said Gaquayla Lagrone, one of the three co-owners. Lagrone, and her two co-owners, Howard Harrison and Keshia Evans, have all spent time in either prison or county jail.
Lagrone served two years for drug dealing.

When she got out, getting a job that could support her and her children was mission impossible.

"Once you get a felony behind your last name, all opportunities go out the window," said Lagrone. 

"And like housing, it's very difficult to get housing based on certain things that come up in the paperwork," said Harrison.

But through Oakland & the World Enterprises, a non-profit organization run by former Black Panther Party leader Elaine Brown, and with a donation by the Oakland A's,  the owners learned the ins and outs of running a food truck and trained to cook.

"This is a business that is owned cooperatively by mostly formerly incarcerated people who would otherwise not have an opportunity to even make a dime working on a food truck. But now they won the food truck," said Brown.

Brown and other community leaders celebrated the food truck's grand opening Friday.

Although the food truck was launched by a non-profit, the business is strictly for profit, so the three chefs can sustain themselves.

"Once they are profitable we let them go. His tether is gone," said Brown.

Harrison says after being in and out of jail for drug charges, he finally sees a path toward a real future.

"Different game plan. Different mentality. Different circumstances," he said.

Oakland & the World Enterprises says it hopes to model the food truck venture for others who come out of incarceration without much support.

"I have two sons. A 16-year-old and a two-year-old. And I want to show them anything they put their mind to they can get it done," said Lagrone.