Rich Landau had one thing to work out when he became a vegetarian in his teens: “How do I make vegetables for my carnivore palate?” There was nothing for him to eat, he said.
“It was the ‘80s, there was nothing to eat. It was like pine cones, sunflower seeds, and peanut butter. I had to teach myself how to cook. I’m still a carnivore at heart. I still have a carnivore's palate. All I want to do every day is eat a giant corned beef Reuben. I had to teach myself how to get those flavors into my vegetables.”
He said he’s done just that and now he and his wife, Kate Jacoby, are getting ready to open their second vegan-based restaurant, Ground Provisions, on the site of the former Inn Keeper's Kitchen in Dilworthtown. Their other restaurant is Vedge on Locust Street in Philadelphia.
The couple isn’t sure when the combination restaurant and store will open. Renovation of the Inn Keeper's Kitchen is taking longer than expected, but they hope to open within the next two months. And there are some operational details they need to work out as well.
Current plans call for the store to open first. They’ll be offering prepared vegan dishes for grab-and-go takeout, or for eating on the porch, weather permitting. The restaurant part of the business will open later. How much later, they still aren’t sure.
And the business hours still need to be determined. Jacoby said the store would likely be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days per week, and the restaurant hours probably 5-9 p.m. They hope to operate the restaurant five nights per week but might begin only two or three nights.
One other unique aspect is that the menu will be limited, beyond just vegan cuisine. They’ll have what Landau referred to as a “tasting menu” that features five courses for a single price, $75, with drinks additional. There will also be some wine pairing.
Landau said the “tasting menu” concept has been growing for a while but has become more important since the reaction to COVID severely hurt the restaurant business. Now, though, it’s borne out of necessity with the high costs of everything, product, utilities, and labor.
“Restaurants were almost annihilated during the pandemic,” he said. It’s bad and we‘re still going to see a ripple effect from that. We wanted to have a restaurant that would survive in that modern climate. That’s why we’re doing the tasting menu,” he said.
That menu will change periodically, “Big sweeping changes for the seasons, smaller changes week to week,” Jacoby said later.
And the food will be locally sourced as much as possible. Landau said about 90 percent of the produce will be coming from a five-mile radius once summer arrives.
He explained that the name Ground Provisions comes from Caribbean restaurants and a dish called ground provisions.
“It’s an actual side dish you get in the Caribbean. It’s basically all the roots and starches that are growing at any given time. If you go to Jamaica or any other Caribbean island and order ground provisions, you get a side dish of all the vegetables, which is what we do. We’re taking that concept and bringing it north,” he said. “And we looked at the word provisions and that was like a store. We wanted to have the store. So, provisions is the store and the ground is where all of our food comes from, and it clicked.”
Along with getting the building ready and deciding on hours of operation, Ground Provisions is also looking for restaurant help. Anyone interested can go to the website — www.groundprovisions.com — fill out an application and upload a resume.