Plantology joined three other food trucks at Gainesville’s vibrant Midpoint Park and Eatery on July 1. The new business offers a 100% vegan menu offering scratch-made burgers, mac bowls and loaded fries.
Owner of Plantology Ryan Strandjord was inspired to create the vegan restaurant during his time as co-owner of a Jacksonville-based restaurant. Despite the challenges of opening a business during a pandemic, Strandjord was determined to bring his dream to life. To do this, he knew he had to be inventive.
“On a large scale there have been significant supply chain issues for well over a year now, so getting everything from specific ingredients, down to packaging and food service gloves have been a challenge at times,” he said. “It really forces you to think outside the box and get creative at times.”
In addition to simply being an additional vegan spot for locals to dine at, Strandjord went the extra mile to curate a menu that will appeal to everyone. Utilizing his experience at his past restaurant, he’s taken favorites from that menu while also drawing inspiration from popular picks at typical food chains to “vegan-ize” non-vegan dishes.
Strandjord hopes serving vegan food that contains both fan-favorite and comfort food elements will encourage more people to entertain plant-based eating.
“Comfort food is something everyone can get excited about, so with our aim being to get more non-vegans to try plant-based dishes it makes sense to present something they’ll get excited about too,” he said.
When Ryan Strandjord became a vegan six years ago, there were fewer vegan restaurant options he could turn to. Now, he noticed several innovative vegan spots sprout up in Gainesville, in addition to his own, and he expects to see more in the near future.
“This means that anyone who is interested in eating plant-based more often will have a much easier time of it,” he said.
Strandjord is intent on providing foods that he loves to eat himself. His passion for a vegan diet shines through in his work, and he is excited to share that with the Gainesville community.
“Being a vegan to me is all about embracing compassion,” he said. “It’s working to understand how we impact those around us and how we can minimize the negative effects we have on others.”
In addition to healthy eating, sustainability is a major focus for Strandjord and his team.
“All of our containers are eco-friendly by either being compostable or recyclable. Restaurants are notorious for generating a lot of waste so we want to do what we can to minimize the impact we have on the world in that regard as well,” he said.
Strandjord acknowledged that the pandemic affected everyone on an individual level, so he wants to reduce stress levels for his crew.
“From my perspective as a new business owner in Gainesville, it means really being mindful of a work-life balance for my team and making sure that they feel supported in the workplace,” he said.
Strandjord said he will ensure student team members are given enough flexibility in their schedules to focus on their schoolwork. In addition, he also strives to save some personal time for himself to explore Gainesville’s nature.
Zyrkxis Macatol, a 20-year-old UF biotechnology student, heard about Plantology from his friend and knew he wanted to apply because of his interest in sustainability and clean eating.
“A lot of the food we serve is very healthy and we want you to feel good when you eat that,” he said. “I guess I’m trying to convince more people, especially college kids in town, to open their minds to a different kind of diet.”
Macatol had a positive experience at Plantology’s soft opening on Wednesday despite the rain. He noted that business was good and customers enjoyed the loaded fries and mac and cheese.
As Plantology continues to grow, the team’s main goal is to make the absolute best food it can and to deliver on customers’ expectations.
Strandjord said through Plantology, the community has the potential to make an impact on the environment.
“We change the world with what we put on our plate, and by simply choosing not to eat animals we have a hugely positive impact. It’s an easy way to embrace the concept of ‘think globally, act locally.’
Contact Bryce Brown at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @brycebrownnn.
Bryce Brown is a third-year journalism major and copy editor for The Alligator. He has previously worked as a metro general assignment reporter on the Metro desk and as staff writer for The Avenue. When he's not fretting over deadlines, you can find him drinking copious amounts of black iced coffee and listening to Lana Del Rey.