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As the Cider Press Café celebrates its first birthday, owner talks vegan food

It started with a dog.

In 2007, when Roland Strobel's Jack Russell Welsh corgi, Jack, got sick from his dog food, Strobel and his partner, Johan Everstijn, decided to change his diet. They made his food at home from vegan ingredients and instantly noticed a change in the 7-year-old pup.

So they decided to change their diets, too.

After 14 days, that change became more permanent.

"The Fountain of Youth isn't some elusive thing," Strobel said. "It's raw food."

And it was raw, uncooked vegan food that became the cornerstone of Strobel and Everstijn's first restaurant in Naples, a concept they brought to the Cider Press Café at 601 Central Ave. in downtown St. Petersburg a year go.

As they celebrate their first anniversary in St. Pete, they are undergoing some changes. They have closed their Naples restaurant and are focusing their efforts on the bay area location.

Strobel said they have recently added a few minimally cooked dishes to reach a wider audience. Almost everything on the all-vegan, gluten-free menu is uncooked, like the AvoBLT — avocado, eggplant bacon, lettuce and tomato — or the buffalo bites, dehydrator-braised cauliflower tossed in house-made buffalo sauce.

New items, like sandwiches, guacamole and a Cuban platter, have been added to a menu that debuted Aug. 15.

The changes come as a result of listening to what customers wanted, adapting the menu and expanding their customer base, Strobel said.

"We're trying to make it so that it's more approachable for more people."

For fall, Cider Press will start offering flavors like pumpkin spice, in cheesecake and smoothies. Strobel also hinted at a cookbook, coming in the future, and a Cider Press Café "3.0," which will include a more standardized kitchen that is better equipped for cooking.

And on Aug. 20, the restaurant debuted weekend brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Menu items include maple-pecan raw vegan pancakes stuffed with cheesecake and fresh fruit; spinach and sun-dried tomato quiche; and a tropical acai bowl topped with banana, pineapple, strawberries and coconut chips.

Contact Carlynn Crosby at carlynncrosby@yahoo.com.

As the Cider Press Café celebrates its first birthday, owner talks vegan food 08/16/16 [Last modified: Monday, August 22, 2016 1:26pm]
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