Heather Regular transitioned from a meat-based diet to a vegan diet about three years ago, largely a result of ethical reasons.
“I didn’t really realize what happened in the animal industry, and once I did I just couldn’t support it anymore,” she explains.
“It was a learning process because before, I opened up my fridge and if I had chicken or beef, that’s what I based my meal around. It took me six months to transition.”
Now, the 28-year-old from the Baie Verte Peninsula is taking her vegan life to a whole new level by starting a plant-based vegan restaurant called the Green Kitchen, located in the former home of Jumping Bean at 47 Harvey Rd. in St. John’s.
“I believe right now we see the demand for plant-based foods here in St. John’s,” says Regular, who’s joined by a silent business partner in their first foray into running a food and beverage business. “We believe the movement is growing, so we were inspired to do it.”
At the Green Kitchen, customers will be able to dine from a menu consisting of a little bit of everything, and all of them recipes Regular and her partner have cooked up.
There’ll be nachos, cauliflower wings, chili, burgers, wraps, sandwiches, soups, bowls, pastas and homemade desserts.
“The food is inspired by both of our tastes,” says Regular, who likes a hearty meal, compared to her partner who prefers bowls and salads. “I think our customers will appreciate the variety on our menu.”
More than that, she suspects even meat eaters will find comfort in the fare.
“A lot of people think that vegans just eat lettuce and twigs, but that’s not true at all,” Regular says with a laugh.
“We cater to all different types of diets. I don’t want people to be pushed away because we’re a plant-based restaurant. I’ve had a lot of friends and family who are meat eaters and really enjoy our burgers.”
The menu will also have some gluten-free options for those with allergies or sensitivity.
Every effort is being made to source local ingredients, but Newfoundland being what it is, there are seasonal limitations for some products. Still, there will be local tastes on the menu with two taps of Quidi Vidi Brewery products, desserts from Moo-Less Morsels, and coffee and teas from, ironically, Jumping Bean.
The physical restaurant itself has undergone a fairly dramatic change inside, resulting in a spacious dining area with simple décor, including a number of pieces of driftwood integrated into some of the furniture by the carpenter who was responsible for crafting the restaurant’s tables.
Hours of operation to start are from noon until 8 p.m. but they’re already eyeing expanding weekend hours to catch some of the lucrative brunch traffic.
“Right now, we’re just trying to hash out our menu and get that figured out with the kitchen staff, and once we get into the swing of it we’ll be offering a brunch menu.”
The original plan called for a mid-July opening, but due to some challenges navigating red tape, Regular anticipates the restaurant will launch in the next couple of weeks.
“We want people to come in and have a good meal, feel relaxed and enjoy the environment. We say 50 per cent is the food, but the other 50 per cent is the experience.”