Black History—The Green Family Brings The Love To Lithonia

From providing delicious, healthy meals to supporting local farmers and partnering with other organizations like the Heritage Area, Green Love Kitchen is a key community player.

We’ve all heard of love at first sight, but love at first bite? That’s the story behind the founders and owners of Green Love Kitchen, one of Atlanta’s hottest vegan spots right here in the Heritage Area in historic Downtown Lithonia.

A Love Of Food

“It felt like it was just the both of us for a good four seconds when we locked eyes, and then we broke away and we kept walking in the same direction,” said Green Love’s Executive Chef Marie Maudelyne Green about meeting her now husband Jhavaun. Both New Yorkers with Caribbean roots (Marie is Haitian and Jhavaun Jamaican), the pair met in the hallway when Marie was registering for classes at La Guardia Community College. “I was exiting while he was just coming downstairs. We shared a cinnamon bagel with butter and jelly, or butter and cream cheese. Food was always at the center of our relationship—we always found ways and places to eat.”

The dangerously tasty kale wrap with sweat potato fries.

That hasn’t changed. Flash forward nearly two decades and Marie is now a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef who runs Green Love Kitchen with her husband and business partner Jhavaun (in addition to raising three kids together). Located on Main Street Lithonia, Green Love has become a main stop for visitors to Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. The restaurant serves insanely flavorful Caribbean-inspired vegan food from spicy Thai kale wraps to mouthwatering house-made Green Burgers and even a tantalizing hot bar brimming with hot jerk mushrooms, spiced chickpeas, and the best vegan mac around (plus coconut curry salmon for the meat-eaters). This is seriously some of the tastiest vegan food in Metro Atlanta.

Feeding A Community

“We’ve won many awards, but we don’t do it for the awards,” said Jhavaun, whose grandmother was an international chef, traveling to Caribbean islands and cooking on cruises and in hotels (his mother also owned a food truck in Jamaica called the Hot Pot). Marie grew up in a religious family and her mother was a respected cook making meals for her church community, which she does to this day. “We do it for the people,” said Jhavaun. “We want to be a champion for a people. We want the people know we’re inclusive. It’s more than just a vegan restaurant.”

Green Love’s storefront in Downtown Lithonia.

To that point, Green Love has become a big community hub and player as well. Opened in March 2015, the vegan eatery has given back a lot of love to the City of Granite, sourcing from local farmers and providers, participating in Lithonia’s summer Farmers Market on Main, as well as partnering in events with other local organizations like Awali Farm and Black Dot Cultural Center, which actually began in Green Love’s storefront as a pop-up shop back in 2017. They also invest in their employees.

“Because most of our staff have their own side hustle and they’re entrepreneurs, Jhavaun also provides free business training to them,” said Marie. “We want to see them succeed just as much as we want Green Love to succeed. So we provide entrepreneurship training to our staff just so they can be entrepreneurs and grow the same way Green love grew.”

Executive Chef Marie Maudelyne Green wants to feed the community culturally as well.

A Green Future

This March will mark the restaurant’s 9th anniversary. Jhavaun and Marie smile as they discuss plans for this upcoming year. “We haven’t finalized anything yet, but we want to do a calendar of events,” said Jhavaun. “We’re looking into the Farmers Market, and we want to do something for the spring equinox, a family night,” said Jhavaun. “We’re looking to engage the community once again because we were focused a lot, especially after COVID, what does Green Love Kitchen represent that will meet the needs of the community and be on the forefront of that. At the center of everything is food, eating healthy, more or less, caring for the community.”