Ras Imande is the owner of one of the most respected retail food stores in South East Queens. His business Vital Health Foods was officially opened in April of 1991 and has served the communities of St. Albans, Jamaica, Cambria Heights, Laurelton, Springfield Gardens, Hollis, Rochdale Village, Rosedale Elmont and Valley Stream for over 27 years.
This humble man of Rastafarian faith is persistent and consistent in his desire to serve his growing number of customers, many of whom have become personal friends. His business life and personal life intersect because his is a family business, which includes his now grown son, Jabu and daughter Shyana. He values the inclusion of family because his own father was instrumental in the early development of his business.
Ras Imande faced adversity early when he opened up in 1991; he was incapacitated for several months after an incident that almost cost his life. It was during this difficult time that his father along with his wife managed the fledgling business, ensuring its survival. Ras Imande places great value on family and that family atmosphere is reflected in the customer friendly way his business is run. Ready to admit he didn’t go to college, Ras says his inspiration and determination to succeed in business comes from his encounter with His Majesty Haile Selassie. He recalls that as a young boy in 1966 his eyes met those of His Majesty during the ensuing motorcade, as the King of Kings visited the twin island of Trinidad & Tobago where Ras was born.
Ras Imande said, “It was that fateful spiritual encounter that left an indelible impact on my thought process,” he believed he gained a sense of liberty and freedom from that experience, as well as a determination to be independent and self-reliant. The migration of his family to the United States facilitated his ambitions, during and after leaving High School he pursued and developed a small business making jewelry from coconut shells, making him not only self-sufficient, but determined to succeed in business. He tried his hand in the restaurant business with partners, but soon discovered that his work ethic was more suited to follow his own lead, so he founded Vital Health Foods to provide his community with a service that was badly needed.
The mission of Vital Health Foods in the words of Ras Imande is this: “We help people to understand that the first prescription for life is Prevention and that Cosmic Consciousness and balance are Vital in maintaining human existence.”