Twisted Plants In Cudahy Finds A Way To Share Vegan Comfort Food During the Pandemic
We're continuing our COVID Earners series — focusing on how minority-owned small businesses have weathered the pandemic.
Twisted Plants is a vegan comfort food restaurant in Cudahy, owned by Arielle and Brandon Hawthorne. Their brick-and-mortar restaurant opened in May of last year, and they also operate a food truck by the same name.
In about a month and a half, the two will, as they say, be “crushing their one-year-anniversary.”
The Hawthornes talked to WUWM’s Maayan Silver about their business, and how they’ve been making it work during the pandemic.
“We specialize in plant-based burgers. So, we have several burgers on our menu, each that comes with different toppings on it. We also serve fried cauliflower and vegan drummies and nuggets, things for kids. We also have ice cream and milkshakes,” Arielle explains.
While the menu is 100% vegan and plant-based, it’s not meant to be all healthy food. Brandon says much of their menu is vegan comfort food.
But because they opened last May, customers haven’t been able to try a dine-in experience at their Cudahy location.
“From the start, we pretty much have had to do the curbside pickup in ordering. So, none of our customers have actually been inside of the restaurant. We've also had to implement some online ordering, and also partnering with delivery services as well to reach more customers,” says Arielle.
She says when they first opened, they were getting a lot more business than expected and that the phone basically never stopped ringing. Brandon says the money they’ve received from loans throughout the pandemic have helped them meet the demand.
“We received, I want to say, three loans in total. One was from Fiserv, which was with a $10,000 grant that was given out to small businesses throughout Wisconsin. We also received a minority grant from Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and that was, I believe a $2,500 grant. And we have an SBA loan worth $3,700. I don't know if the dollar amounts matter, but we received about $15,000 to get us through this crisis,” he says. “Every dollar counts, especially in the restaurant business, cause the profit margins are already small. But it definitely allowed us to one, get better equipment, to get orders out faster and two, keep a roof over our head, pay the overhead. So, it definitely has helped.”
Now, orders have slowed down and they are relying on good weekend weather to get people out of their houses and picking up food.
“We’re at a point where we look forward to weekends. Our weekday sales are kind of low, but I mean, weekends, everyone's out, especially when the weather's good. ... I don't know what normal will be in the next few months. But when things get back to normal, I know that our sales will get back up to par,” says Brandon.