North Chattanooga vegan restaurant Cashew has plans to expand.
“We’ve had people telling us to move or expand, and we wanted to but didn’t want to leave our location,” co-owner Bailey Cole said of the 149 River St. spot. “It’s so difficult to completely go somewhere else … Now, [the space next door has] become available. We feel like we have to jump on it. It’s time.”
With the business next door to Cashew gone, Cole and her partner, Kristiana Mallo, have the opportunity to knock down a wall and essentially double the 980-square-foot space.
The small business, which opened in 2013, currently seats 18 people and has limited days and hours of operation. The expansion will allow the business to be open more, Cole said.
The duo, who both have food and restaurant industry backgrounds, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help with some of the expansion costs.
The $35,000 fundraising goal would help pay for a portion of the changes Cashew owners want to make.
They are currently working to get bids from contractors and find the most economical way to expand.
“It’s more expensive than we ever imagined, which is why we are doing the Kickstarter,” Cole said. “We’ve been saving up for a potential expansion, but now that it’s become time, we need help. It’s only a percentage of the total cost to really do this expansion the way we want to.”
Much of the work has been done. They have plenty of recipes ready and people who want to work for them. They’ve also purchased some equipment already.
The duo will most likely be able to expand regardless of the Kickstarter, but they may not be able to do everything on their list of changes without it, Cole said.
“We want to make our own ice creams and expand our vegan cheeses,” she said as an example of the bigger dream they hope to make come true.
The duo has been shocked by the restaurant’s success, Cole said.
Each month, they break the previous month’s sales record, and the 18 indoor seats are usually full, she said.
And it isn’t a place that only vegans enjoy. Many of their customers are “die-hard meat-eaters” who sometimes want something light and healthy, and to support a local business, Cole said.
“I wish that people would maybe think of us as a healthy Chattanooga restaurant, not just a vegan Chattanooga restaurant,” she said. “The way the food scene is going, people are getting more adventurous. Everyone can find something at Cashew they will enjoy eating, [and they can] expand their culinary horizons a bit and try something new.”