Food is a family affair for the Woodhouse family. Every week, sisters Cara, Nicole and Krista and their mother, Carla, whip up plant-based comfort food in the tiny kitchen of Oddfellows Liquor Bar for dozens of hungry, drunk customers.
Sisters Nicole and Cara have been bartending at Oddfellows since the bar’s opening in 2014. The Woodhouse Vegan pop up has been held Oddfellows since it replaced Hai Poke’s pop up in 2016 (which also found success with a restaurant location on High Street).
While the family’s plan was originally to open a restaurant, a shortage of real estate and high leasing prices in the downtown area delayed their ability to do so. Instead, the Woodhouse sisters used their connection with Oddfellows to start their business.
“We quickly gained a reputation for preparing good, hearty vegan food,” Cara said. “Believe it or not, just a mere four years ago there were virtually no vegan restaurants, or even vegan off-the-shelf food in grocery stores.”
Woodhouse Vegan will relocate to its restaurant in Italian Village in early 2019, where the family will have more room to share their expanding menu. The journey to opening their own restaurant has been fueled by their passion for living a compassionate lifestyle and introducing others to vegan living.
It can be hard to define the Woodhouse menu by anything other than “vegan,” as their popular dishes range from a hearty mac and cheese to pho noodle bowls. The sisters find much of their culinary inspiration from traveling the US and abroad, while staying true to the food from their childhood.
“There are some plant focused chefs doing some really innovative things that inspire us to push our own exploration and growth,” Cara said. “We are also constantly developing and evolving recipes that taste like the kinds of foods we grew up eating.”
Their restaurant will be located in Italian Village in a building that has over 100 years of history. With its high ceilings, large windows and funky vibes, the space is exactly what the family imagined for their dream brick and mortar location.
To prepare for their grand opening, the family has been working to add a second bathroom, build a kitchen and open up access to the outdoor patio. Despite needing to make these additions, Cara said the enterprise is delighted to be in a space so close to the community they work and play in.
The sisters said they plan on opening with a limited menu and hours, eventually expanding to seven days a week, providing breakfast, lunch and dinner options. The space will also serve local brews, curated cocktails and sustainable wine.
With more and more people expressing their curiosity about vegan eating, Cara and Carla said the family is excited for the opportunity have a space where they can extend their passion for plant-based eating to more customers.
“With our space, we can provide a place and environment for people to explore plant based foods without limitation or menu scrutiny,” Cara said. “Creating delicious food favorites you grew up with—as well as new tastes—is exactly what we do.”
Woodhouse Vegan will be located at on 851 N 4th St.
Story by Sara Stacy.