Gmonkey Food Truck Owners Plan Branford Vegan Restaurant

Gmonkey Food Truck Owners Plan Branford Vegan Restaurant

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BRANFORD, CT - The Gmonkey mission is on the move again, as the food truck’s owners Mark Shadle and Ami Beach Shadle prepare to open a full-service vegan restaurant in Branford.

G-Zen will take over the space formerly occupied by The Suburban, at 2 East Main Street. (Owners Arturo and Suzette Franco-Camacho recently sold the restaurant to the Shadles, in an effort to focus more on their nearby casual spots Swill and Tacuba.) Beach Shadle said they’re working toward a mid-October opening.

“We’re very excited, but certainly, coming off the heels of Gmonkey, it’s a little overwhelming,” she said of the new opportunity, which she said came together quickly.

The new restaurant will feature organic, vegan and sustainable cuisine, including a selection of raw foods. Among the potential entrees: Creole cornmeal tempeh with caramelized onions, red smashed potatoes and vegan cornbread; Portobello tofu napoleon and a macrobiotic “bowl” with roasted root vegetables and brown rice. Beach Shadle said they’re also planning “vegan tabletop s’mores” with organic, free-trade chocolate; vegan (gelatin-free) marshmallows and organic graham crackers made with amaranth.

Favorites from the truck will also have a presence, Beach Shadle said, referencing the popular tempeh Reuben sandwich, raw veggie lasagna with cashew-creme ricotta and sun-dried tomato sauce and the “wild jungle peanut butter cup shake” – with Peruvian cacao, organic peanut butter and almond milk.

The restaurant’s healthy focus even makes room for alcoholic beverages, with a list of organic, biodynamic wines and drinks made with fresh fruit juices and agave nectar. A “Beta-Carotini” blends fresh carrot juice and ginger with raw sake, Beach Shadle said.

“We’re taking health drinks and making them into cocktails,” she said. “You’re not going to feel hung over in the morning.”

The Shadles have had a busy 2011 – the restaurant comes just a few months after the truck launched in early May. Gmonkey has gained a solid following at stops like the Billings Forge Farmers’ Market in Hartford and the Durham Farmers’ Market in their hometown, and the Shadles hope the truck’s fans will make the trek south to check out the new place.

“We’d never intended for Gmonkey to be [going] in the dead of winter,” Beach Shadle said. “And now [the fans] will know they can come to a solid location – a guaranteed place to go.”

Gmonkey plans to maintain its travel schedule through at least the end of October, and will still be available for catering and private events, she said.

The Shadles said they expect a mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian customers, like Mark Shadle experienced as the former chef/co-owner of It’s Only Natural in Middletown. They also plan to leave much of The Suburban’s interior intact, with a few minor cosmetic changes.

And they’re excited about the relaxed, neighborhood vibe of the shoreline town, Beach Shadle said.

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