Australia-Based Greenhouse Canteen Opening First U.S. Location in Columbus
Two sisters took a leap, opening Greenhouse Canteen, their first vegan restaurant in a tiny town in Queensland, Australia in 2013. Seven years later, the restaurant franchise is gearing up to open its first location in the U.S. and fourth overall right here in Columbus, OH.
Offering a menu of 100% plant-based eats, Greenhouse Canteen is aiming for a September debut of its stateside home at 1011 W. Fifth Ave. in Fifth by Northwest.
So how did sisters Charlie and Natalie Evans end up opening a restaurant some 9,000 plus miles from home? Some serendipitous internet sleuthing from local Joshua Douglas.
“I’ve always been interested in owning my own business, and knew a proven franchise system would be ideal for my first go, so I did an online search and came across Greenhouse,” Douglas says.
He dug into the restaurant’s digital presence, reading reviews and scouring Instagram. He liked what he saw.
“As a vegan I felt that Columbus had an opportunity to house a full-service restaurant and bar, such as Greenhouse, in effort to help make the plant-based lifestyle more accessible and easy for people to try,” Douglas says.
He took a shot in the dark and reached out to Natalie to see if they’d thought about taking the brand international.
The sisters had, in fact, thought about bringing Greenhouse Canteen to the U.S. Natalie received Douglas’ email while on a discovery trip in Southern California with an existing franchisee.
“As we believe in divine timing and saying yes to opportunities presented to us, we learnt more about Columbus and its renowned test market for the food service industry, along with its nickname ‘Flavourtown,’” Charlie says. “We felt in our gut that this was the perfect next chapter for Greenhouse growth.”
Douglas will be the owner and operator of Greenhouse Canteen in Fifth by Northwest.
Since opening its first location, Charlie says Greenhouse Canteen has thrived, becoming a pilgrimage spot for vegans. And, the popularity of the diet has grown along with the restaurant.
“We’re vegan for the people, for the planet and for the animals,” Charlie says. “If we, as humans, can effectively fuel and nourish our bodies without exploiting animals or destroying our planet through the consequences of mass farming, we reckon that’s the way to go.”
Not only is Greenhouse Canteen’s menu vegan, but it’s also gluten-free, with nearly everything prepared in-house.
The menu features vegan spins on classic dishes from mac & cheese, to nachos, burgers and enchiladas. Charlie says dishes like the Cajun Jackfruit Taco, served with turmeric cheese, romaine, sour cream and cucumber and kale guacamole or the Mushroom Cheeseburger with tempura mushroom bun, lentil and tofu pattie, pickled onion and brie “cheese,” have been Aussie favorites. Korean Rice Cakes and Chickpea Crepe Cannelloni are heavy hitters as well. There’s something for the sweet tooth, too, with desserts like Pecan Pie and Rocky Road Brownie. The sisters are excited to see what dishes are top eats in the U.S.
A nod to its origins, Australian wines will be heavily featured on the drinks menu, but they’ll look to more local purveyors for Greenhouse Canteen’s beer, cider and liquor selections.
Charlie knows the middle of a global pandemic might not be the ideal time to open a restaurant internationally.
“We are definitely not taking the weight of the pandemic lightly and we are also well aware of the multitude of businesses struggling during this time not only in America but globally, our businesses included,” she says.
However, it was an opportunity they couldn’t pass up.
“It has taken some time for us to reimagine the opening of our first U.S. location, but we have been described as a tenacious duo,” Charlie says. “With over year in the making (paperwork paperwork and more paperwork – not a favourite of ours), coupled [with] Josh’s belief in the brand, the love for his city and courage; we weren’t quite ready to let go of this dream.”
Greenhouse Canteen hopes to open its doors soon – in early September – with both dine-in and to-go options.
They’ll borrow a concept currently employed at their Australian restaurants to handle dine-in customers. Through “microdining” (referring to the intimate setting, not small portions), Greenhouse Canteen will offer two 90-minute seatings a night, capped at 30 people.
“There will be time allocated between seatings for staff to sanitize the space as per city guidelines,” Charlie says. “Bookings will be required to ensure our kitchens are prepped adequately.”
Delivery will be available through third-party services. Diners can also order through the website for carryout, or select some eats from the grab-and-go fridge at the restaurant, which will be stocked with meals, along with house made cheeses, dips and sauces.
For more information, visit greenhousecanteen.com/columbus.