3 Worlds Cafe serves up food, social justice

Aqeela Sherills says his mission is “to provide a set of quality services, especially food.” The 3 Worlds Café, named for three of South Los Angeles’ historic ethnic groups, is a place for residents to gather, invest in and transform their neighborhood.

Cozy and welcoming, the café was almost empty on a Monday morning. But Sherrill and his worker, Luis Romero, keep the energy high with rhythmic music and great food.

“It was started by, conceptually by Roy Choi, with the idea that we could bring healthy, affordable foods to South Central,” Sherrills said while eating a late breakfast.

Choi is the man behind the popular Kogi food truck. But now the café has become more than a place for eating.

“It’s really a space to be able to congregate around, get information, share information and do homework and have a good time,” Sherrills added.  

3 Worlds Cafe on Central Ave. is committed to employing neighborhood residents. | Caitlyn Hynes

3 Worlds Cafe on Central Ave. is committed to employing neighborhood residents. | Caitlyn Hynes

South Los Angeles is in the midst of a transitional period as a recent police report showed an upswing in violence. Residents are also noting an increased pace of gentrification. Yet Sherrills is committed to helping the community thrive in spite of the outside pressures. 

“South LA is on the verge of being heavily gentrified,” he said. “We talk about jobs in this community all the time, that there’s a lack of jobs, that there’s an immediate need for more job opportunities.  I think that the community needs more than jobs. You need also entrepreneurial opportunities and strategic investment.”

Sherrills said he isn’t opposed to gentrification on its face, but recognizes that some business models can exclude residents.

“The thing is, if a community resident who has been here all their life can benefit then it makes it that much better,” he explained.

As an activist in the local area, Sherrills often hosts community meetings in his café on Central Avenue. But he’s also dedicated to making personal connections within the community. 

Sherrills hired Luis Romero six months ago. Romero sees Sherrills as a mentor, someone who has invested in his life.

“He’s somebody, where I kind of learn most of my stuff from… He kind of paints the light there, and he kind of shines the light [in the neighborhood],” Romero said. “And I’m like, ‘okay I’ve been exposed to a lot of things that I didn’t know because I’m here seeing him do it, the conversation he has, you know the interviews he’s been in here with.’ It’s a great experience to know him.”


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