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The Springs' first vegan eatery, and a new gluten-free treats spot

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Vegan hoot

By early May, Colorado Springs will see its first (to our knowledge) fully dedicated vegan restaurant, in the form of The Burrowing Owl (1791 S. Eighth St., Suite H, burrowingowllounge.com).

Two couples with 60-plus years of cumulative restaurant experience are behind the venture: Aspen Nipp and her husband Mike (the local musician), and Cody Rilo and Tyler Schiedel (he a familiar Blue Star Group face of 15 years).

In addition to being plant-based, the Owl's menu will be non-GMO, organic and fully gluten-free, save for bread or tortilla options on select items. And rather than crazy high-end, sprouted this-and-that fare found at the nation's fanciest meat-free spots, this menu will be "comfortable and approachable," in Tyler's words, basically everyday humble food for veg heads.

Tacos and "sloppys" will employ a textured soy protein, while another "bowls" section of the menu will include a Bragg's Liquid Aminos-based broth with ramen; an Ethiopian-themed lentil bowl; and a Southern-inspired black-eyed peas and kale bowl. Also look for soups, salads and easy snacks like a peanut or kale-walnut dip, and juices that incorporate the pulp.

Cocktails, all well-label to keep prices under $5, will feature some of those juices. Other health-food-inspired sips will include The Mother, made with apple cider vinegar, agave syrup and whiskey, and "nasturtium spheres" (the flower suspended in ice cubes). Wines will be boxed, and more than 50 cans will compose the beer list.

The "community-focused lounge," in the former Canyon Coffee & Cafe spot, will open daily from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., and these four birds sound serious about customers connecting with one another: There'll be no TVs, and a small discount for checking your phone in. In a press release, Tyler talks up a lofty goal: "We want to leave something for future generations of all sentient beings."

Chasing Ami

The former Miss Ami's Kitchen has rebranded to become Baked With Love (bakedwithlovellc.com), now located at 111½ E. Pikes Peak Ave., above Seeds Community Cafe, accessible through the tiny walkway next to Josh & John's.

Since early 2013 (and while operating out of two different commissary kitchens), owner Ami Heath has focused in part on gluten-free items, as well as wholesale distribution to local restaurants such as Salsa Brava. Such efforts will continue, and orders may be placed online now for party platters such as cheesecakes in four different sizes.

But around summertime, expect new retail hours for daytime desserts. Heath has also created a build-your-own option with 13 flavors of cheesecake and three different crust options, all available regular or gluten-free. She'll also sell GF or regular graham crackers, Key lime and pumpkin spice pies, plus a white chocolate maple-walnut fudge. Catch a grand opening party from 4 to 7 p.m., Friday, March 20.

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