Brynn Pearson is moving Greens Organic Cafe across the street to much bigger digs and bringing its loyal clientele with her.
“There’s something really special about how it’s all developed,” says Pearson, who bought the business seven years ago.
Until now, she’s dished up vegan specialties such as gluten-free tempeh wings, spiced walnut taco rolls, and Szechuan bowls at the southeast corner of Christina and Lochiel streets.
The restaurant could seat 24 but it was tight for space. Staff joked the kitchen felt like a closet and, indeed, it was.
“Our kitchen at the old place was the original closet for the Cigar store that used to be there a long time ago,” said Pearson. “But, we really pumped a lot of food out of there.
“It was quirky and perfect, really, at the time.”
Opportunity knocked when the former Limbo Lounge and its much larger space became available on the northeast corner. Pearson has signed a five-year lease with the developers of the former Bayside Centre.
The new Greens Café was expected to open at 196 Christina St. North this week. It will feature the original menu as well as The Greens Canteen offering vegan chocolate, artisan cheeses and other items.
Sarnia can easily support a larger vegan restaurant, said Pearson. The new Greens Café has capacity for 45 people inside and another 30 or so outside.
“It’s a no-brainer,” she said. “It’s like moving into a palace. Our new line kitchen and prep area is about the same size as the entire old restaurant.”
“I think that, especially in the last two to three years, there’s been a huge switch to plant-based eating in Sarnia,” she said. “Most of our customers are omnivores who enjoy our food too and recognize it’s a much healthier way to live.”
Pearson, 37, has been vegan since 2009 and was a vegetarian before that.
“I really believe in it and also know that many of the spices that make food taste good are plant-based.”
Most vegan cooking has umami, one of the five basic tastes and sometimes called savouriness, which is found in mushrooms, tomatoes, yeast extracts and soy sauce, Pearson explained.
“It’s that feeling that you’re eating something really good.”
She creates the recipes and works in the kitchen with head chef Shannon Scully.
The new location is opening with nine staff from the old place with plans for one or two more. It will run at half-capacity to adhere to pandemic regulations this summer, but Pearson hopes to draw customers to the dog-friendly patio, and has installed a gate opening onto Christina Street.
Inside the new restaurant, she’s painted the walls and refaced the sizeable bar where Kombucha Hound – owned by sister Alex Pearson – will be served on tap along with a range of wine and other beverages.
“It’s got the same vibe as the original Greens where you are welcome to come, get a treat, and stick around,” said Pearson.
Greens Café at 196 Christina St. N. will be open seven days a week. To view new hours of operation and menu options, check out social media including the website at greenscafe.ca.
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