Unique café to open inside Kismet building
By Jason Starr
When the Kismet building opens on Route 2A in June, the first thing visitors will notice upon entering is a full-sized truck replica built into a wall and flowing with meat-free meals, smoothies and coffee.
Pingala, a three-year-old vegan café in Burlington, is opening a second location inside Williston’s newest wellness space. It is an attempt to replicate the quick service, street food atmosphere that has fueled food truck culture — and bring it indoors.
The vegan eatery will be co-located with The RehabGYM, the building’s anchor business that is relocating from its current location near Maple Tree Place, as well as Pulse Cycling Studio, a doctor’s office, mental health counselors, massage therapists, a nutritionist and Kids’ RehabGYM.
RehabGYM owner Sharon Gutwin recruited Pingala as part of an integrated approach to filling out the building’s tenant space, where all the businesses complement each other. Kismet, Gutwin says, is a word describing when things are meant to be together.
“Our food is incredibly healthy because of some of the ingredients we don’t use,” Pingala founder Trevor Sullivan said. “My ultimate goal is to connect as many people as I possibly can with vegan food that is full of flavor, life and creativity.”
A former kitchen manager at The Skinny Pancake, Sullivan found it difficult to further his restaurant career after committing to eating vegan about five years ago. Without an alternative, he opened Pingala Café and Eatery in the Chace Mill along the Winooski River next to Laughing River Yoga.
“It quickly became very apparent there were a lot of people out there who were interested in vegan food,” Sullivan said.
Buoyed by the café’s success, Sullivan started a mobile food cart called “The Broccoli Bar” that makes the rounds at summer festivals and food truck hangouts. He also has designs on wholesaling pre-packaged vegan foods like eggplant bacon.
“He’s on to something incredibly big,” Gutwin said. “I see his business going national. I feel privileged being in on the early stages of his vision. He’s got a long, fun ride ahead of him.”
Sullivan’s idea to recreate a food truck indoors came as he was observing a lunch rush in his Burlington location.
“I realized it operates the same exact way as a food truck,” he said.
“I’ve seen how popular this whole food truck culture has become in Burlington and I’ve been totally inspired by the food truck people, the food that they are creating and the relaxed atmosphere and culture.”
He painted a food truck mural on the wall of the Burlington cafe about six month’s ago. The Williston location will be a three-dimensional version. The replica will appear to be pulling out of a barn painted on a wall in the building’s entrance atrium.
Pingala serves plant-based recreations of comfort foods: freshly made sandwiches, salads and breakfast options.
Sullivan hopes to expand the customer base beyond people who are coming into the building to visit other businesses.
“Williston wasn’t the next step I thought we would take, but I’m really excited about being here,” he said, “because of all the folks who come here to shop and the families who live in Williston.”
A grand opening of the Kismet building is set for June 19.