Courtesy Santana’s Vegan Grill
The Springs has a taste for vegan and plant-based cuisine, and if that was ever in question, let the ascendancy of Santana’s Vegan Grill
put it to rest. Since opening on Boxing Day 2017 in a former coffee kiosk at the corner of Union and Academy Boulevards, owner Dusty Hernandez has had enough success to move and expand to a full-size fast food restaurant. It has a drive-thru and room enough for 40 diners, with more seating to be installed in the future.
“Our walk-in refrigerator is as big as our last location,” says Hernandez. He always planned to expand, but didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. It fell into his lap not long after Texas chain Taco Bueno closed its Springs restaurants at the start of 2018, so it was very much a right time, right place situation.
Hernandez has taken advantage of the opportunity and expanded his offerings, adding plant-based steak and cheese, bratwurst, and chicken Parmesan sandwiches to the menu, using a range of meat-substitute brands including Beyond Meat. Still, their top seller remains their bacon cheeseburger, which, like everything else on the menu, has zero cholesterol, Hernandez says.
While Hernandez has ambitions to expand, he intends to get everything running smoothly in the current spot first. “We’ll wait at least six to eight months before we start scouting our newest location,” he says. “We’re thinking maybe in Denver, but we’re not exactly sure yet.”