A vegan restaurant across from the Old North End Variety? By fall, there could be a soy-smoothie source in the space formerly occupied by the Greener Pastures vintage clothing shop. The owner of China Express - on Shelburne Road and North Street - plans to serve a healthier crowd at the New Ethic Café.
Actually, one of Sam Lai's workers, Owen Hoppe, will run the place. The 23-year-old vegan promises sandwiches, veggie burgers and "a lot of raw stuff" in a counter-service setting he envisions as "something '50s meets something sort of lounge-ish." He's also developing a recipe for vegan soft-serve ice cream. "I won't have anything non-vegan in the building," Hoppe assures.
There's plenty of demand for animal-product-free food, as Lai has discovered running a restaurant down the street. You can create your own tofu dish - and substitute brown for white rice - at the Old North End's China Express.