Why an East Sacramento Vegan Eatery Launched During a Pandemic
The Daunting Decision to Open During Extreme Uncertainty
If you’re like me, you are undoubtedly missing those fun times of going out to explore and try new restaurants. Many local establishments have been forced to close during stay-at-home orders, due to low demand. Others have been converting to takeout, curbside, and delivery services throughout the past month. However, one place in particular decided to do the complete opposite. Pure Soul Plant Based Eats launched their restaurant amidst the pandemic, adding a new vegan option to the limited list of existing vegan selection in the area.
We spoke with the founder of Pure Soul Plant Based Eats, Jamie Cavanaugh, to see if we could understand what could possibly allow a restaurant to open under these extreme circumstances. Based on that interview, these are some of our ideas for what may have enabled a business like Pure Soul to open in the midst of a pandemic:
Pure Soul didn’t approach this from a glass-half-empty perspective. Rather, they saw this as a way to be there for their customers during a critical time when vegan options might be even more limited. By looking at this situation from the perspective of their customers, they were swayed into moving forward with their plans.
The restaurant is located in a cozy 750 square foot space previously occupied by The Wienery. From the beginning, they didn’t overextend themselves by signing a lease on a place with an abundant seating area. By keeping the square footage to a minimum, they are keeping their overhead under control which is critically important right now. However, as restrictions on table service ease up, tight spaces might be challenging to accommodate potential social distancing guidelines like what we saw briefly with Governor Newsom’s order to reduce capacities in half
As the demand for vegan cuisine continues to increase, there isn’t yet a saturation of options in the area. According to Jamie, the decision for launching during this time was made because “there are already limited all-vegan options in Sacramento and with the shutdown/stay home order, we thought people would appreciate the option even more”.
Could Pure Soul’s East Sacramento location also be playing a role in this? The majority of workers residing in the area hold white-collar jobs where remote work might be more feasible. That could potentially benefit lunch time sales. Of course, this could be offset by less employees coming into the area during the day to work. Since no hard facts are being presented, we aren’t able to make a strong argument other than to say that location matters in the decision making of whether or not a restaurant can open during this time. If you had plans to open in a more tourism dependent area like Old Sacramento, those would almost certainly still be on hold.
We’ve touched on this already but if your menu and concept isn’t differentiated from other options in your area, launching at this time or any other time for that matter could be challenging. East Sacramento isn’t littered with transitional vegan comfort food options so this helps Pure Soul stand out and fill that void.
Soft Opening Requirement
When you’re opening up a new concept, you may need some time to get things down before you’re ready to announce that grand opening. Some restaurants, like East Sacramento’s THAI – The Authentic House of Ingredients, had prolonged soft-opening periods of 2-3 months! So starting out in a situation where you can only offer delivery and pick-up actually doesn’t sound all that crazy. Offering deliveries and online ordering in Pure Soul’s early opening stages has allowed them to perfect that process and work out the kinks that any new business would typically encounter, such as technology issues and wait times.
Pure Soul has approached this otherwise uneasy situation with a positive attitude, welcoming customers and hoping to help provide a source of comfort to the public during this critical time. Their courage to go head-first into this decision to open is definitely something to be noted. They are located at 715 56th St, Sacramento, CA 95819. Current opening hours are from 12pm to 3pm and 4pm to 7pm Wednesday – Friday and 10am to 3pm on Saturdays. Stay connected by following them on Instagram at @puresoulpbeats or visiting their website at puresoulpbeats.com
This post was co-authored by Ashley Cabigon