Columbus’ new vegan restaurant is all about making vegan food delicious and comforting. Woodhouse Vegan ran a popup for years, but now has a brick-and-mortar location in Italian Village. They’re ready to make Columbus fall in love with their mouth-watering eats.
We interviewed Cara Woodhouse, the oldest sister behind the recipes. She spoke with us about working with family, and their new restaurant location in Italian Village.
Lykens: What is it like working with family?
Cara Woodhouse: Working with family is great. The three of us have always worked in the service and food industry — opening up restaurants for others and managing bars.
I started out by catering events in Columbus for corporate clients and got so busy that I had to start looping my sisters in! That’s how we realized we loved working together. We ended up getting so busy that we were like “you know what, we could really make this happen for ourselves!”
I feel really lucky to have a business with people I love, trust, and respect. So many people look for business partners who they can feel this way about, but I feel really lucky that I have that built in. I wouldn’t want to have a business with anyone else.
Lykens: What was it like to scope out locations for the restaurant?
Cara Woodhouse: We looked for a spot pushing 5 years. We must have looked at 50+ spots. We had numerous business plans depending on how big or small a space we found. Basically, we created a list of things we wanted and ranked them, and gave them to our agent.
We wanted a spot in Italian Village from the get-go. We had seen the transformation of 4th street and really wanted to be a part of that.
Lykens: Why Did you Choose Your Current Location on N. 4th Street?
Cara Woodhouse: When we first saw the location, the windows were all boarded up and it was kind of an eyesore.
It’s hard to please four people at once, especially four strong-minded females, but it was the first place we walked through where we were like “this is the space.”
If you’ve ever been to our restaurant, you know it’s on the small side. We liked the idea of starting small — the intimate environment of having to wait for a seat for a minute, and of rubbing elbows with your neighbors.
We wanted an open concept kitchen because we want people to know what was going on in the kitchen — we wanted transparency. Vegans as a group tend to have trust issues (laughs) and we wanted people to know that we had nothing to hide.
Also, a lot of people with allergies come to Woodhouse Vegan! An open-concept kitchen allows that extra level of trust, like, we got you.
In fact, the 6 seats at the bar are our favorite spots in the house. We love the fast and casual feel, how you can get mesmerized watching people work — it adds an extra level of value to the food when you see how hard people work to get it out to you.
Lykens: What do you love the most about the building you chose?
Cara Woodhouse: We love how it feels like a community space where people can sit and talk over lunch or dinner. Vegans tend to have similar values, so you’re probably going to be able to have a nice conversation with the person sitting next to you.
My favorite part about the building is how it feels lived in! I love the exposed brick, the large, incredible windows, and the little porch off to the side that makes it feel like a little house.
Lykens: What do you want people to know about eating vegan?
Cara Woodhouse: The word “vegan” can be a scary word. When people think “vegan” they tend to think about everything they CAN’T eat on a vegan diet. But it’s a great way to try what you’ve never tried before and to explore different options.
Veganism can be obtainable without experiencing deprivation. “That’s why we chose comfort food. We want you to know that you can eat plant-based and still not lose comfort and memories over the food you love the most.
Lykens: What’s your personal favorite item on the menu?
Cara Woodhouse: The Trust Fall Grilled Cheese! So good! It comes with smoked white cheddar or three-cheeses and whatever else the chef feels like throwing on there. Just like when a kid trusts their friend to catch them when they fall back, this allows you to trust the kitchen to toss whatever they want into the sandwich. It changes with every customer, and with whoever is in the kitchen, or whatever the mood is of the chef that night. Some of the best things come from those experiments.
I also love the loaded nachos — my sisters and I lived together for five years and often made this dish for sunday dinners, and it’s become a cult favorite.
The west african peanut stew is our most requested item — it’s been a huge hit in our pop-up.
And of course, don’t forget that we have a full liquor license! Our head baker Abby Dillon is a magician when it comes to desserts (she might have sold her soul to become a desserts witch) so we like to tell people that they’re always welcome to stop by for a glass of wine and a cupcake.
Finding the Right Location Turns Your Vision Into a Reality
There’s something about finding the perfect location for your business that makes it a joy to come to work every day. If you’re a business owner who is looking for that perfect spot, be sure to set up a meeting with us by calling (614) 653-1212. We’d love to get a sense for what you’re looking for, and help you make your vision real.
Also, be sure to check out our Commercial Rentals in Columbus!