This Saturday, May 25, get ready to say: “fyah, fyah, fyah!”
And then prepare to eat. A lot.
The Abeshi Fyah Truck will celebrate its grand opening from 11am to 6pm outside the Muskegon Museum of Art (296 W. Webster Ave.). There, the city’s newest food venue will dish up a number of Ghanaian favorites, including the dish known as red-red (spicy black-eyed peas) with fried plantains, cabbage stew served with coconut oil rice, harissa chicken, kakloo (plantain fritters), nkate cake (peanut brittle cake), and sobolo (hibiscus and ginger tea).
“We’re so happy to have this; this is a dream come true,” Tacitus Bailey-Yabani, who moved from Ghana to Muskegon about five years ago, said of the food truck he’s opening alongside his wife, Jessica Bailey-Yabani, and their business partner, William Jeannot. “Now, we can go everywhere and share good food and good vibes.”
And while this is Bailey-Yabani’s first food truck, it certainly isn’t his first time serving good food—or good vibes. If you’ve ever spent time with him, you’ve no doubt heard him (and his many fans) joyfully yell the words that inspired the truck’s name: “fyah, fyah, fyah!”
“Fyah, fyah, fyah means your energy, your love, your hustle,” he explained in a previous interview.
It’s that energy, love and hustle that has propelled Bailey-Yabani throughout his life, whether while becoming a prominent photographer in Ghana or opening his own businesses here in Muskegon.
Since moving from Ghana to Muskegon in 2014, he has sewn himself into the fabric of the city. The year he moved here, he opened his business, Abeshi (which means “I’m here” in Ga, his mother’s native language that’s spoken in and around Ghana’s capital, Accra), at the Muskegon Farmers Market and went on to launch an Abeshi chalet at the Western Market in downtown Muskegon. There, he sold his own artwork, including the photography that propelled him to fame in his home country, and goods from other Ghanaian artists.
Bailey-Yabani then launched Abeshi Ghanaian Cuisine, and he began serving West African food at the Western Market and offering a food delivery service. Last May, the dream to open a food truck began to become a reality when Abeshi won $5,000 at the Muskegon 5×5 night, a business competition that aims to provide funding for local entrepreneurs. From there, the Bailey-Yabanis and Jeannot secured funding for the food truck through Northern Initiatives, a nonprofit community development financial institution that makes loans to underserved entrepreneurs.
Now, the Abeshi Fyah food truck is, in many ways, bringing him full circle: he’s serving the food that he first learned how to cook from his grandmother, Victoria Merley-Bekoe, in Ghana.
“I’m giving much appreciation to grandma for bringing me up,” he said Thursday, when the Abeshi Fyah Truck celebrated its soft opening. “If it wasn’t grandma who brought me up, I don’t know how my life would be. I say, ‘thank you, grandma.’”
With a design that was created by William Jeannot’s brother, Lou Jeannot, and applied by Halfshell Graphics, the food truck is an explosion of color and energy. Featuring an image of Tacitus Bailey-Yabani in mid-laugh emblazoned on one side of the truck, a Ghanaian flag, and cooks wearing hats and aprons made by Ghanaian artists, the vehicle visually represents exactly what the three owners are hoping to do with their new truck: inspire joy and creativity, connect people, and create community. The truck, those behind Abeshi hope, will be a way for people to try food they may have never had before, to meet people they have yet to know, to learn about cultures other than their own.
“Tac is basically a celebrity through how he interacts with people,” William Jeannot said. “It’s a huge educational experience just talking to him; he’s really enriching Muskegon.”
Following Saturday’s grand opening, the Abeshi Fyah Truck will be providing its cuisine throughout the summer, including with catering and at a number of events in Muskegon, including the Lakeshore Art Festival, Parties in the Park, Taste of Muskegon, the food truck rallies at the Muskegon Farmers Market, and more.