VegOut, a vegan restaurant that features comfort food such as mac ‘n cheese, wings and burgers, opened up in December on Bethlehem’s North Side.
Previously a pop-up at Roasted on the South Side, VegOut’s menu was limited to dinner and was only available on the weekends. The pop-up started in December 2018, and one year later, opened up as a standalone restaurant. The new location has expanded to include more dishes and is open more days of the week.
“I’m able to be more creative,” VegOut owner Mary Lopresti said. “I’m able to change things up (and) add more specials. I’m doing a different style mac ‘n cheese now — different grilled cheeses. I could just be a little bit more fun and creative with things.”
The drink selection is also much larger, Lopresti said, resembling a cafe by offering coffees, lattes, espressos, cappuccinos and a cooler with grab-and-go drinks.
In addition to milkshakes, they now make ice cream sundaes for dessert.
“I love that Mary (Lopresti’s) recipes are playful takes on other foods,” said Brad Smith, the front of the house manager. “We have the Big Mac hoagie, which is a vegan version of the Big Mac sandwich. So basically anything that they can do, we can make vegan.”
The restaurant also offers brunch, and the Sunday menu is different than the rest of the week.
Lopresti said she is always trying to add new items to the menu that are free of gluten, soy and nuts. She said she does this because she understands how difficult it is to go out to eat, and she wants to accommodate people with different allergies.
Her goal is to be creative and inclusive when making new food.
“I’m always working on doing things like that, as well as just being fun and crazy and doing a pepperoni pizza grilled cheese to get a little more wild and fun with it,” Lopresti said.
Kaitlyn Smith, one of the cooks, said she was amazed with the food, especially the wings.
As a vegetarian who enjoys working out, she said she was looking for new sources of protein, which she found at VegOut.
“I truly think that being able to come here, and being able to eat the food that tastes the same as everybody else’s and being able to save the world and animals is really big to me,” Kaitlyn Smith said.
Lopresti said the new spot attracts more customers because it has a better location, longer hours and more parking.
She also noticed a drastic change in her customers. She said she still has her regulars, and now new customers who are younger, older or in college. She said it’s different to notice people sit inside and do work there during the day.
Lopresti said when she asks customers if they are vegan, she receives a big mix of responses. She said her non-vegan customers say they eat there because they enjoy food, want to be ethical for environmental reasons, or are interested in a healthier, plant-based diet.
“I think it’s the style of food that Mary (Lopresti) offers,” Brad Smith said. “We here have foods that are familiar for non-vegans. We’re able to attract a non-vegan crowd to a vegan restaurant to come in and try the food. I think that’s what makes us stand out.”
Kaitlyn Smith said she is an advocate for animal rights and said she thinks VegOut’s vegan options taste better than regular food.