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Plant Power: Lifestyle Cafe is bringing vegan options back to Olde Towne East

Mitch Hooper

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As a vegetarian, I rarely start my day off the proper way. Typically, it’s an excess amount of black coffee until the hamster on a wheel operating my brain finally wakes up. And if one thing is for certain, options like chicken and waffles or bacon and egg sliders were breakfast specialties I waved goodbye to many years ago.

That was until I discovered Lifestyle Cafe.

Lifestyle Cafe is a new plant-based restaurant rising from the ashes of the former Angry Baker spot on Oak St. in Old Town East. Thanks to the chef-driven mind of Shanna Dean, also known as Chef Bae, and business-geared brain of Dawn Dickson, Lifestyle Cafe is offering approachable and familiar options that are exclusively vegan. The aforementioned chicken and waffles can be made with a soy-based protein, or cauliflower, and the waffles are gluten-free. The final product is a crispy and subtly spicy chick’n atop cinnamon and coconut waffles with real maple syrup and maple cream drizzled over it all. On the other hand, the bacon and egg slider features smoky coconut bacon, fluffy vegan Just Egg eggs, and an avocado aioli.

Photos: Olivia James

Dean, a graduate of the culinary arts program at Columbus’ Bradford School, said she knew she wanted to pursue a career as a chef, but wasn’t sold on the idea of a fast-paced kitchen with a large staff to manage. It was Dickson, a long- time friend of Dean’s, who presented the idea of starting the restaurant. Dickson also provided the confidence Dean needed to go through with it.

“I was really nervous, like how is this going to be? In real life as best friends, we’re great; there’s no problems because there’s no business,” Dean recalled. “She gave me one of the best compliments ever. She said, ‘I travel the world and eat vegan food. Yours is some of the best vegan food I’ve ever had.’ To have that confirmation from someone I know who has tasted food everywhere […] I was like, ‘Alright, let’s do this.’”

Dickson and Dean switched to a vegetarian and vegan diet in 2007 and the two agreed that things have come a long way. Both of them recalled going out to eat and mostly being stuck ordering salads with just tomatoes. Their hope with Lifestyle was two-fold: one, fill the plant-based gap that was now open in OTE, and two, bring some more hot plate foods to the growing vegan and vegetarian game in Columbus.

Now, the restaurant is operating every day except Mondays. The menu is diverse, with some options on the standard breakfast side, while others, such as the vegan shrimp and grits, play more towards a brunch crowd. Dean is leading the charge in the kitchen alongside her sous-chef Christi Jackson.

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“I did one interview with her, I really liked her and she had all the experience,” Dean explained. “And since she’s been on the team, she’s been everything you can dream of in having a number two.”

With the high volume of fresh produce and products being used at Lifestyle, the job demands long days, and the dynamic between a chef and her sous-chef is an obviously important aspect. The two are no strangers to being in the kitchen as early as 4 a.m. Dean is very much empowering Jackson in the kitchen; the sous-chef is free to experiment with current menu options, add new offerings, and manage new locations if and when expansion time comes.

“Lifestyle Cafe has definitely been about bringing together the right people to accomplish something really, really beautiful,” Dean explained. “Cooking food is not just about putting a bunch of different things together; your energy goes into the food and that’s why we created the vibe that we did.”

The interior of the restaurant is similar to the former Angry Baker, but with a face lift. The tables are minimally decorated with terrariums, while the windows are full of greenery and house plants. Much like the Angry Baker, the bar is still a highly coveted spot where patrons can enjoy an Upper Cup cup of coffee or a pastry from Happy Little Treats with the kitchen area still wide open as if to say, “Watch us, we’ve got nothing to hide.”

Ordering your meal is as simple as pressing a few buttons on an iPad, thanks to Dickson’s PopCom operating system which manages data on the backend. Guests are invited to leave a love note on the blackboard, whether it’s related to the food, or just some good news. And as each person exits Lifestyle, an affectionate “love ya” is shouted by Chef Bae.

The love they are spreading reaches beyond just the Lifestyle Cafe menu. As previously mentioned, Upper Cup Coffee provides the java and Happy Little Treats still has favorites like vegan pop tarts available. Chef Bae also has her own personal brand of herbal and fruit infused spring water available for purchase which comes in flavors like blueberry basil detox. This list of outside vendors inside Lifestyle is something Dickson said she hopes to grow, so expect to see more options in the coming months.

“We tell our clients when they leave, ‘I love you,’ and it’s really real,” Dean said. “When I hire everybody, I tell them, ‘when people come here, we’re serving love.’”

Lifestyle Cafe is located on 891 Oak St. For hours and operations, visit facebook.com/PlantBasedLifestyleCafe.

millennial | writer | human

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Rye In July

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Rye in July featuring the Algonquin! We teamed up with Brown-Forman, Woodford Reserve, and local bartender Ben Griest from Giuseppe’s Ritrovo for this tasty Rye, perfect for July! Today's Rye is featuring the Algonquin, with notes of spice, tobacco, and fruit balanced throughout this cocktail - it's sure to please!

The Algonquin

**SPONSORED**

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Milestone 229 overcomes 2020 challenges, to reopen soon

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Every industry has taken a hit this year. It’s cliche to generalize it. With that being said, some businesses have taken more damage than others.

Milestone 229, located on the river’s Scioto Mile, was forced to closed in March along with all the other restaurants across Ohio, as the restaurant industry took a hit despite the uptick in carryout orders.

Just as things seemed to be coming back to normal, as restaurants and bars were allowed to reopen, the protests demanding change during the Black Lives Matter movement brought an unexpected rioting component that had devastating effects for Milestone 229.

The downtown, upscale eatery with the playful fountain for kids and adults alike, took an extra hit when rioting, looting, and vandalism broke down the windows of the restaurant on Thursday, May 29. Milestone 229 was supposed to reopen the upcoming Monday.

Photo by Julian Foglietti.

Griggs has tried his best to stay positive through it all, finding some valuable and much-needed help along the way.

“A good friend of the restaurant, Cathy King, executive vice president of Wasserstrom, started a GoFundMe page for Milestone 229. We are using that money to help relaunch the restaurant.  We also had many friends and family come down the morning after the riots to help clean up the broken glass.”

Doug Griggs, co-owner of Milestone 229


Now, recovering once again, Milestone 229 is set to open back up on Wednesday, July 8. The fine-dining establishment will offer patio and dining room seating, as well as a new curbside pickup. Co-owner Doug Griggs said in an email that the restaurant was able to keep the majority of its patio seating and over half of its dining room seating. 

Milestone 229 has a new venue revamped for the summer as well. You can view it here.

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And the winner of the (614) National Ice Cream Month poll is…

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Columbus has been a culinary hotspot for pretty much the entire 21st century. But what if we told you that you, Columbus, were just as obsessed with fine dining as you are with devouring ice cream?

Jeni’s. Whit’s. Greater’s. The list goes on. But out of the everlasting, Willy Wonka-esque fountain of ice cream stores that exist in Columbus, which one is the favorite of (614) readers?

In reverse order, here are the top seven ice cream choices in Columbus!

7. Cream & Sugar – 2185 Sullivant Ave.

6. Velvet Ice Cream – Your favorite grocer

5. United Dairy Farmers – EVERYWHERE

4. Johnson’s Real Ice Cream – 2728 E. Main St.; 55 W. Bridge St., Dublin; 160 W. Main St., New Albany

3. Whit’s Frozen Custard – Find Ohio locations here

2. Jeni’s Ice Cream – Find Columbus locations here

And after 12 rounds, the winner of the (614) ice cream championship belt is…

1. Graeter’s Ice Cream – Find Ohio locations here.

Photo by Julian Foglietti.

And it just so happens that Graeter’s is celebrating its 150th birthday this month! Celebrate in style with them by buying this specialty birthday cake ice cream. In addition to selling the ice cream online and at a Graeter’s near you, you’ll also be able to pick some up at Kroger, Giant Eagle, The Fresh Market, Dorothy Lane Market, or Jungle Jim’s.

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