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Plant-based eats

Col’s Kitchen opens in downtown Concord

By Matt Ingersoll

mingersoll@hippopress.com

Bow native Jordan Reynolds found out in June that Willow’s Plant-Based Eatery in Concord was closing permanently. Less than two months and countless hours of construction later, a new vegan restaurant has reopened in Willow’s place, with Reynolds and former Willow’s staff member Rob Ray at the helm.

“Willow [Mauck], who’s a friend of mine, called me up … to say that she decided to permanently close,” said Reynolds, who’s been vegan since the age of 17. “I’ve wanted to start a vegan company for a long time. I had planned on starting a food truck, but then all the gigs we had planned were getting canceled, so that ended up not happening. … So when Willow called, I just thought that maybe it was my time to get the torch passed.”

Col’s Kitchen, named after Reynolds’ nine-year-old pit bull, opened its doors on Aug. 12.

Despite the eatery’s quick turnaround, its concept — what Reynolds refers to as an “eclectic, all-American” approach to vegan foods — has been years in the making. Col’s Kitchen features a well-rounded menu of plant-based options, from appetizers and salads to entree-sized meals, desserts and brunch items on Sundays.

After signing a lease for the space in late July, Reynolds said, he spent 10 or more hours a day for nearly three weeks renovating the restaurant’s kitchen and dining space, all with the help of family members, friends and community members who volunteered their time. They put down a new hardwood floor with pine from a local sawmill, painted the walls and chairs that were donated to them, and even built their own tables out of wooden boards and gas pipes.

Col’s Kitchen’s opening day coincided with Restaurant Week, a program of Intown Concord’s Market Month. The eatery was so well-received on Day 1 that its staff ran out of food three times over the course of the day and had to repeatedly replenish its stock, according to Reynolds.

“We got killed, but you could call it a pleasant surprise,” he said. “I wasn’t sure how many people would come out during a pandemic, but they were more supportive than we imagined. … Vegans were certainly hungry after not having a place here for a few months.”

Reynolds said it was important not only to give vegan customers options they would not otherwise have, but also to make the menu accessible to everyone. Seitan (pronounced “SAY-tan”), for example, is a high-gluten wheat flour used as a protein in Col’s Kitchen’s stroganoff and Philly cheesesteaks in lieu of meat.

Other options include Buffalo cauliflower wings with ranch, Brussels sprouts with sweet garlic sauce, seared tofu pad Thai with rice noodles and veggies, various smoothies and milkshakes, and coffee from White Mountain Gourmet Coffee.

Some dessert items Col’s Kitchen has featured out of the gate have been macarons, pies and root beer floats. You can also get a “pie shake,” made with either apple or strawberry rhubarb pie.

“We put a piece of pie in a blender, crust and all, and then add a couple scoops of ice cream and a little dash of milk in and just blend it up,” Reynolds said. “It’s like pie à la mode, but in a glass.”

Currently the eatery is open for lunch and dinner from Wednesday to Saturday, with brunch available on Sunday mornings. That menu features pancakes, Belgian waffles, tofu scrambles and “Scram Sammy” sandwiches with options like chili cheese and Buffalo seitan.

Reynolds said the plan is for Col’s Kitchen to be open seven days a week.

“We want to start bottling up our own sauces for sale. We make the Buffalo sauce, the ranch that goes with [the wings] and we make the Thai peanut sauce,” he said. “We’re also looking into making our own ice cream in the next couple of months.”

Buffalo Seitan Scram Sammy. Photo courtesy of Col’s Kitchen.

Col’s Kitchen
Where:
55 S. Main St., Concord
Hours: Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for brunch (hours may be subject to change)
Contact: Find them on Facebook and Instagram @colsplantbased, email colsplantbased@gmail.com or call 227-6778

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