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By ALAINA BARTEL
Daily News Staff Writer
Walking into Soul Harvest Cafe, regular guests are immersed in a familiar environment — the sound of an espresso machine letting off steam, dimmed lighting and several patrons spread amongst the high and low tables and couch next to the fireplace.
The menu, however, might not look so familiar to someone who hasn’t been there since December. On the first of this year, the cafe changed its name from Refiner’s Roast to Soul Harvest Cafe, and has since expanded its menu.
“This last year I decided to rebrand because I’ve been contemplating doing more organic foods and bringing more dietary restrictive items on the menu,” Vicky Slenkamp, the owner of the cafe, said.
Slenkamp explained her grandson has celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. Her granddaughters, who are older, are vegan — a person who does not eat or use animal products.
With her awareness of dietary restrictions, Slenkamp knows how difficult it might be to find options catering to gluten-free and vegan customers.
“I had some people (the other day) in from a cruise ship that were really excited about vegan options,” she said. “It’s just hard to keep a solid menu when you don’t know what’s going to move and your inventory has increased so much. It’s more fresh things.”
Aside from the new menu options, the cafe still has the same atmosphere and brews the same Refiner’s Roast brand coffee. Slenkamp said she hasn’t put all of the new items on the menu because they are testing them out, but, a few of the new items can be found on the menu.
Slenkamp’s favorite item is the new falafel plate, which is vegan and gluten free. The plate includes baked falafels served with tabouli salad, cucumbers, black olives, grapes, pita bread, hummus and tahini or cucumber dill sauce. She said the cafe makes its own hummus and several of its own dipping sauces.
Other dietary restrictive options include a cucumber-dill wrap, chickpea curry wrap, cranberry pecan salad and wheat or gluten-free tortillas for quesadillas. Slenkamp said they offer vegan cream cheese, as well.
The cafe also serves antibiotic-free, free-range chicken and cage-free egg options. She said they will buy organic produce as it is available, and hopes to bring in organic coffee and tea in the future.
Soul Harvest Cafe, located at 2050 Sea Level Drive, is open from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It is closed on Sunday.