Editor's Note: This article was updated on Nov. 25.
Over the last two decades, vegan food has seen a tremendous transformation from an unavailable, sometimes bland form of cuisine, to something that’s become commonplace and masterful.
That type of mastery is what local chef John Hagerty is bringing to the Clark-Fulton neighborhood in his newest restaurant, The Green Kitchen.
While vegan food is immensely more popular than it was even five years ago in Cleveland and that’s largely thanks to Hagerty. He first started by doing a vegan night at Winchester Music Tavern in Lakewood before launching The Green Kitchen inside of Little Rose Tavern in West Park. Now, he’s taking the concept built there to a standalone spot.
Set to open Wednesday, Nov. 22, The Green Kitchen will push forward what a vegan eatery is. While long ago it may have been something people would look down upon or avoid because it was different, that’s not the case anymore.
That is, at least in part, because more people have taken on vegan food as a challenge. There are newer ways to create it, better products available and even more creativity than there was decades back.
The Green Kitchen is planning on utilizing that and creating a place for both long-time vegans or those just looking to experience a good vegan meal.
“Just vegan food for everyone gets a bad rap. Sometimes I think for people that don't eat plant-based,” says Hagerty. “I think if you didn't tell someone if I didn't label this or brand this as a vegan eatery, I don't think most people would even realize.”
At The Green Kitchen, there’s a little bit of something for everyone that’s looking to eat vegan. Hagerty and his team have found creative ways to build a menu that features appetizers like crispy cauliflower wings ($10) and pierogi ($10), handhelds such as the smash burger ($15) and sausage roll ($16), as well as bigger, fork and knife type meals such as mac ‘n’ cheese ($13), Nashville hot chicken ($16) and the Parma dinner ($17). Of course, there are a handful of salads as well including a Greek salad ($12) and a chicken Caesar ($16).
“The cheesesteak ($16) is my favorite. I've been doing that the longest,” says Hagerty. “That’s kind of, like near and dear to me. There’s a new menu item, Korean fried chicken and waffles ($20) that I’m stoked to do. There's really nothing on the menu that’s a sleeper.”
The Green Kitchen will also have desserts, both made fresh to order as well as grab-and-go selections available at the bar thanks to a partnership with Raisin Hell, a local vegan bakery.
At this time, Hagerty has decided against pursuing a liquor license for the establishment, but The Green Kitchen will have house-made sodas ($3) that come in a variety of flavors including cherry, espresso, and grapefruit. For $5 more vanilla ice cream can be added to make it a float.
The Green Kitchen is roughly 1,250 square feet and has seating for 30 customers at a time. It features tables as well as a bar area with a very clean, aesthetically pleasing background. The eatery does a great job of mixing a relaxed vibe with a bright, positive energy. It’s a combination that allows guests to enjoy a quick lunch while also calming down from the stresses of everyday life. The wall behind the bar with plants hanging up adds a nice touch and a calming presence.
“It'll be more of a super casual, come in and sit down, but you know people want to sit down relax, enjoy the room,” Hagerty says before adding it will have more of a personal feel to it than some of the bars and restaurants he’s worked at before.
The restaurant is located at 3182 W. 25th St. just south of Interstate 90, making it more special to Hagerty, considering he grew up just around the corner.
“It's up and coming. Great view of the area,” Hagerty says. “I grew up right down the street at 25th and Clark.”
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the Green Kitchen was in Ohio City, not Clark-Fulton.
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