Spike Mendelsohn to ‘plant’ flag with Union Square vegan restaurant

The vegan revolution is moving forward – one step forward and two steps back, as Lenin would say.

Celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn will be opening PLNT Burger in the heart of Union Square later this fall, Side Dish can exclusively reveal.

The Food Network star will also showcase his plant-based burger at this fall’s New York Wine & Food Festival Burger Bash, which he had won in recent years for his beef burgers – a President Obama favorite at the Mendelsohn hotspot in Capitol Hill in Washington, Good stuff restaurant.

The Montreal chef made his debut in New York, however, working for top chefs and restaurateurs including Thomas Keller, the late Sirio Maccioni and Drew Nieporent.

“I’m so happy to be back in New York City with a plant-based restaurant that’s full of advocacy and doing what’s good for the planet,” said Mendelsohn, who has opened 10 PLNT locations in Pennsylvania and the United States. DC area in the past 18 months.

The Union Square spot will be 850 square feet, focusing on takeout – with four or five seats at the counter. The plan is to open more locations in the city, he added.

“Our goal is to democratize plant-based foods and feed the masses,” Mendelsohn told Side Dish.

Nicole Marquis at the table
Philadelphia-based Nicole Marquis opens HipCityVeg restaurant in Union Square.
Jason varney

He has competition. Nicole Marquis, the founder of the popular Philly-based HipCityVeg, known as the plant-based “Shake Shack” of food, will open her first restaurant in the city next month.

Like Mendelsohn, Marquis says his mission is to make plant-based food more accessible to everyone. And like Mendelsohn, it opens in Union Square – with two delivery kitchens only in Brooklyn and Queens. HipCityVeg is scheduled to open at 28 E. 12th St.

“We are currently seeing an unprecedented amount of innovation, interest and investment in plant-based foods. My concept is to serve familiar food, like the fast food that most of us grew up on, so that people try it, want it and come back, ”said Marquis. “Most of our customers are neither vegetarians nor vegans. We are seeing more and more people interested in eating at least one plant-based meal a day, which can lead to more. And now, with the urgency of climate change, people are realizing that every meal is also an opportunity to have a smaller impact on the planet. ”

The ‘democratization’ of the herbal revolution comes shortly after Eleven Madison Park – named in recent years as the world’s best restaurant – announced it was going fully vegan (except for milk and honey for tea) last May.

But its pricey tasting menu of $ 335 per person (the wine pairing is an extra $ 175 per person) has just been criticized by Eater, who says EMP’s food is not close to being “Revolutionary” or “risky”. Nonetheless, EMP star chef Daniel Humm – who is now dating billionaire philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs – is said to be claiming a waiting list of 50,000.

Humm told Side Dish his restaurant is taking a plant-based approach to showing diners just how “delicious and magical” such food can be – a message that could empower others in the restaurant industry. adopt more vegetable options, he said.

“There is no denying that our food system is down and I have witnessed firsthand how the supply has changed,” he said. “The future of foodservice is plant-based. This is the way forward for our planet. It is not anti-meat, but pro-planet.

Meanwhile, the vegan gospel is spreading: The Met Ball is going vegan this year. And around 25 new vegan spots have already opened in the Big Apple this year alone, with three openings this week. This week, Chelsea-based Nuleaf – founders of Terri – opens a second location in Hell’s Kitchen, while Plant Junkie opens at 230 Park Avenue; Greenpot, a new vegan market in Greenpoint, Brooklyn also kicked off its smooth opening this week.

Spike Mendelsohn is holding a vegan burger.
Mendelsohn has won awards for his (real) beef burgers, but he’s turning his attention to vegan foods.

Earlier this summer, Innocent Yesterday – serving creative salads, pasta and baked goods, carrot cake donuts and exceptional vegan pastries – opened at 252 B E. 77th St.

There are currently over 180 vegan or plant-based restaurants across town, said Matt Marshall, a vegan-themed start-up entrepreneur and co-founder of @ vegan.nyx on Instagram, who follows new vegan openings and vegetable.

Some of them opened during the pandemic. They include Plant-Based Thyme & Tonic, a mostly vegetarian / vegan kosher gastropub located at 474 Columbus Avenue, which is owned and owned by Modern Bread & Bagel. At Thyme & Tonic, the plant-based menu is gluten-free and nut-free, although there are sustainable eggs and fish on the menu.

In addition to the new openings, JaJaJa Plantas Mexicana is expanding to its fourth location in the city in a matter of weeks, a spokesperson said. And UK-based Lewis Hamilton’s plant-based burger brand Neat is also planning to open in New York City, along with West Coast Honeybee Burger, according to sources.

Planta Queen, which has branches in Toronto, Miami and West Palm Beach, also made a big opening last May at NoMad, at 15 W. 27th St. There are plans to open a second place in Soho – as well as in Bethesda, Maryland; Los Angeles and Washington, DC. The chain, founded by Steven Salm and David Lee, specializes in plant-based Asian cuisine.

“The market is responding well,” said Salm, CEO of Planta Queen’s. “We don’t compare ourselves to EMP, where it costs $ 2,000 for a dinner for two. Our average check is $ 48. But we are premium in terms of aesthetics, ambiance and professionalism, with an affordable price. He adds that the clientele, younger and more feminine, is not exclusively vegetal.

A range of sandwiches and fries from HipCityVeg.
As part of a self-proclaimed mission to make vegan food more accessible, Marquis will open only delivery facilities in Brooklyn and Queens HipCityVeg.

“People don’t come to us just because we are vegans. It’s an amazing restaurant that doesn’t serve animal products, ”said Salm. “Our average target consumers are millennials, a generation concerned about the planet and its health. We are not trying to convince anyone of anything. The majority of people come to us because they believe in our ethics and values ​​and the benefits of what it means to have a plant-based lifestyle.

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