Woodhouse Vegan Pop-Up Finds Permanent Home in Italian Village
Top reason not to go vegan: no more cheese. Top reason to go vegan: Woodhouse, the vegan comfort food pop-up, is opening up a permanent spot in Italian Village, and they’ve got a vegan cheese that competes with the real deal.
“Nicole makes the nacho cheese every week,” says co-owner Cara Woodhouse, adding that they have a few customers who buy it in bulk. “People call it liquid gold.”
Cara runs the business with the other women of the Woodhouse family, which includes Cara’s mom, Carla, and sisters Nicole and Krista. Cara and Nicole both work at Oddfellows Liquor Bar, where two years ago they took their family-catered events. After years of cooking for family gatherings and friendsgivings, Woodhouse was born, replacing Hai Poké as the bar’s weekly pop-up and offering common comfort foods like mac and cheese, grilled cheese and nachos in a new way. And non-vegans eat it up.
They’re known to take guest suggestions, putting out their own version of Skyline chili one week, and a “chickpea-of-the-sea” tuna melt another. That’s something they’d like to continue once they open up their brick and mortar at 851 N. Fourth St. this winter. They’ll have a breakfast menu featuring baked goods by Nicole and Krista, along with a core menu of guest favorites, like the mac and cheese, nachos, and pretzel bites, and a weekly or monthly special based on a guest suggestion.
“Our whole goal is to spread veganism and make it accessible to everybody,” Cara says. “We’re making food you’re comfortable with and grew up eating, and putting veganism at the forefront.”
Originally the four set out to find a spot where they could have more prep space and storage. Their kitchen setup at Oddfellows is a tight fit, and they make everything from scratch — the dough for the pretzel bites, that prized nacho cheese.
Plus, their following is growing. Every Monday and Tuesday, the Woodhouse crew can be found slinging their fare for a long line of meat-eaters and veg-heads alike. When they came across the building on North Fourth Street, the idea of a permanent Woodhouse became real.
The space itself has two rooms; the main area will offer a bar with seating for breakfast and lunch diners (liquor and beer will be served as well), while a second elevated space, though always available for seating, will serve a more upscale menu in the evening. That room will feature two large community tables they imagine also using for community gatherings — “It seems silly to have this beautiful space Downtown and not be able to utilize it for anything and everything,” Cara says.
The entire restaurant can seat up to 40 people inside, while another 20 can be seated on the back patio. As far as aesthetic, the Woodhouses are going for “mid-century modern with an industrial flair,” using exposed brick, a dark hardwood floor, earth tones and concrete accents to create a “comfy and cozy” environment.
Woodhouse will open its doors by early 2019, but the team is aiming for earlier, possibly before the end of the year. Once open, they’ll start with limited hours and days, operating five days per week for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
For more information, visit their Facebook page.