It all started with guacamole.
When Rico Alexander, founder of HopeBoy’s Kitchen, created his famous guacamole, his diet consisted mostly of chicken, fish and vegetables. He was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and wanted to improve his diet and reverse his high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
“I ate no beef, no pork, very little bread and even dairy — I stopped eating dairy,” he said. “I said, ‘Man, I need one more thing,’ so I started playing around with guacamole.”
Originally for friends and family, the guacamole eventually led to Alexander selling dozens of cups and growing into a small business selling hot meals for his community.
HopeBoy’s Kitchen is a vegan food truck in South Dallas. Alexander started it in May 2020 to share his love of plant-based eating in a community with few healthy options. lower life expectancy and plagued by health concerns.
Alexander dubbed his best-selling guacamole “crack guac” because it was addictive and he thought it was ironic.
A native of Pleasant Grove, Alexander spent his teenage years dealing drugs in south Dallas. In 1996, at the age of 20, he served four and a half years in prison. Although he now lives in Grand Prairie, he wants to come back and do good for the communities he feels he has harmed.
“I chose to bring my food to the south part of Dallas because this is where my heart is, my passion, and I’ve done a lot of dirt,” Alexander said. “I’m trying to correct some of the things I think I’ve done to this community. I damaged the community and now I feel like God is calling me to heal this community through food.”
According to that 2019 Parkland Health Needs Assessment, South Dallas is home to many health issues including high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. In 2018, Alexander decided to adopt a plant-based lifestyle for health reasons.
The food truck serves birria tacos, smothered salisbury, meatloaf, burgers, and other comfort foods. The all-vegan menu surprises many, but Alexander hopes his food makes veganism accessible.
“I try to give people foods that they’re comfortable with — so tacos, right?” Alexander said. “In Texas, especially in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, we’re big on tacos. Who won’t like a good vegan taco?”
Alexander’s wife, Josi Alexander, is a proud supporter of his food truck and vegan food, which she says she doesn’t recognize as vegan. She said she always encouraged him to start this business, but Rico was convinced his food wasn’t good enough yet.
The two are foodies and are always trying to find the best restaurants in town. For Josi, the best is at home.
“As far as I’m concerned, my husband hands down the best burger you’re likely to eat,” Josi said. “Best burger, best guacamole, best meatloaf — I mean, I could go on like this.”
The first place Alexander shared his hot vegan meals was at a Target parking lot in Oak Cliff. He distributed pre-ordered meals there for 18 months until he was kicked out because dozens of people queued up for him.
While Alexander was imprisoned, his mother died of cancer at the age of 44. Four years later, his father died of a heart attack. Seeing his own parents struggling and being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, Alexander decided to try changing his diet. Eventually he found that veganism was the best option for him.
Alexander’s mother loved to cook. He said she was phenomenal and wouldn’t go to any event without bringing something homemade. He said he feels closer to her in the kitchen.
“I think she watches over me all the time,” Alexander said. “Sometimes when I’m in the kitchen, I think she’s going to say to me, ‘Hey, son, that’s enough seasoning.'”
Josi is proud to see her husband inspiring his community and those from the same background.
“Everyone talks about the American Dream and I can see it in my husband,” she said. “He’s a hope for those who want to get off the streets and grow.”
Now HopeBoy’s Kitchen occasionally pops up and is located at Tyler Station in Oak Cliff. Alexander hopes the business will grow, eventually establishing a brick-and-mortar location in the southern sector.