The Colorado Springs Vegan & Vegetarian Group currently has around 950 members, but they're clearly not the only ones around willing to go plant-based for a meal. Nikki Kopinski, owner of the new Kale and Karrot food truck (kaleandkarrot.com), says she tends to sell out of food within two hours of setup at locations like Great Storm Brewing.
She's been a vegetarian for five years, but has constructed her entire menu, save for one egg roll option, to be vegan. And all of it is organic.
Kopinski comes from 10 years of fine-dining work, mainly at Indianapolis' Harry & Izzy's (co-owned by Peyton Manning). As a senior server, she says she worked closely with her chef, assisting on large catering gigs: "Seeing the techniques helped me get a taste for other kinds of food she says," which came in handy when experimenting with her own alternative menu design.
She tricked her kids first with a cashew-brown rice burger, which she says isn't as dry as other versions she's tried elsewhere. Then she began playing with the fibrous veggie and fruit pulp left behind from making juices — who knew a commendable fake chicken patty could stem from that? Other K&K menu options include: "Mean Vegan" shepherd's pie; gluten-free avocado toast; zucchini noodle bowls; french fries and salads, plus fresh juices and smoothies.
"I want to show that it isn't hard to make something without meat and animal products, and it can still taste good," she says.
Glazed and horseshoed
Though it only hosted its grand opening in late April, Western-themed Horseshoe Donuts (2593 Airport Road, horseshoedonuts.com) is already opening a second location by month's end at 481 W. Hwy. 105, #202, in Monument. Both businesses arrive via identical twin sisters Liz Schulze and Erin Glenn, who grew up making muffins at their grandparents' B&B and hobby baking cakes as pre-biz-world-professionals.
"You might wonder why a successful attorney and chief financial officer would want to start a donut shop," their website reads. "Well, that is simple. Donuts make people happy. Divorce does not. The corporate world is stressful. Donuts are not."
That matter-of-fact humor transfers into a no-BS assessment of their competition. The Gloucester-born sisters don't hold back from calling much of what's out there "really awful compared to Massachusetts." Still, Glenn says, "There's room for all of us, and we're different." How so?
Glenn, who says she's worked 10- to 18-hour shifts daily for the past three months, hand-rolls and stamps her cake and raised donuts, only using the mechanized depositor to achieve proper old-fashioned donuts. "I can control size and thickness better," she says, also noting respective tweaks for frying temperatures and times to achieve ideal textures. Also key: She "pays a fortune" to import "high quality" ingredients and premixes from the East Coast, which she insists top other conventional products used by most outfits.