Angie Barrell chops kale throughout prep for Stairway to Veggin’s second weekend open in Wilmington. (Port Metropolis Every day/Shea Carver)

WILMINGTON — Two new Wilmington restaurateurs are combining three loves into one of their newest enterprise. Vegan cooking, giving again to the neighborhood and Led Zeppelin all create the inspiration of Stairway to Veggin’ (a play on phrases from the British rock band’s famed 1971 hit).

The ghost kitchen, owned and operated by Angie and Matt Barrell, opened two weeks in the past off Citadel Hayne Highway. It operates in a 12-foot-by-30-foot area at CJ Commissary. 

READ MORE: 2 Wilmington cooks make it to semifinal spherical in 2023 James Beard Awards

Ghost ideas are primarily industrial kitchens the place small startups serve prospects by way of on-line ordering solely. There isn’t a checkout window or dine-in seating. As a substitute, third-party deliveries can be found or the meals could be picked up; the Barrells carry it to the shopper’s automotive.

“The cool factor is, within the buying middle our commissary kitchen is in is a bottle store, so you may order meals from us, decide it up, and go hand around in the bottle store and get a drink along with your meal,” Angie stated.

Throughout the first weekend of Stairway to Veggin’s opening, an area group of vegans hosted a “carrot mob.” Wilmington Vegan hordes space companies, particularly native eating places, to assist bump up gross sales throughout in the future of operations. Angie stated they frolicked at The Tipsy Goat subsequent door as their meals was ready and delivered.

“We weren’t overwhelmed, so it was excellent for us simply being a two-person group for a fantastic opening week,” she stated. “After which we had the proprietor of Panacea order, in order that was actually cool to really feel help from them too.”

The Barrells first launched Stairway to Veggin’ as a meals truck in Durham in 2021, but by final fall they wished to vary the break-neck tempo of the enterprise setup. The method was grueling: prep and retailer the meals, load the truck, drive to a venue, serve  prospects, break down the short-term kitchen, drive again to a commissary to unload every little thing, wash down all tools, and get up the subsequent day to do it yet again. 

“Folks don’t perceive the toll it could take in your physique and the lengthy hours,” Matt stated.

The Barrells introduced the truck to Wilmington for just a few occasions at native breweries and within the Cargo District. Angie stated the suggestions they obtained was overwhelming.

“We felt a pull to the Wilmington space,” she stated. “Every time we had been right here, we actually felt a lot love and help from the folks right here. We love the town and the seashore.”

Firstly of the yr, they revised Stairway’s idea and determined to maneuver nearer to the coast to launch its new iteration. The five-item menu is priced $6 to $18, consisting of curry hand pies, banh mi bowls, fettuccine Alfredo, aspect gadgets and even a youngsters meal.

“It’s high-quality, flavorful, distinctive meals with a consolation really feel, like your mother made it.” Angie described.

The Barrells are constructing connections regionally with farmers and companies, corresponding to CraftGrown Market, the place they supply herbs, microgreens and lettuces. Early Thursday night Angie was chopping kale and Matt peeling and sautéing candy potatoes to enter the pink Thai curry for the hand pies.

“It simmers all day,” Matt stated. 

“I make the crust home made, too,” Angie added. 

“She’s the prepare dinner, I’m mainly her sous chef,” Matt added.

Pink Thai curry is stuffed in hand pies, served over pineapple and cilantro slaw. (Courtesy picture)

The flaky dough spherical is filled with veggies and pink curry served atop a pineapple and cilantro slaw, so warmth is counteracted by acid and sweetness.

The Alfredo sauce within the pasta dish is dairy-free, made with substitute vegan “lotions” and coconut milk.

The menu will change seasonally and the Barrells are excited to introduce new gadgets, corresponding to home made focaccia and desserts like butter pecan cheesecake. They’re making their very own vegan-based “cheese” from cashews, additionally to be served on a charcuterie board particular — for singles and {couples} — arising for Valentine’s Day. 

Included is vegan pepperoni, constituted of tofu that’s lined in 12 to fifteen spices. Angie provides in fats, together with completely different dietary parts, earlier than slow-roasting it within the oven.

“You wouldn’t assume it’s pretty much as good as it’s,” she stated.

Whereas vegan meals is the principle focus of Stairway to Veggin’, it has an offshoot initiative, Eat Good, Do Good. The Barrells donate a portion of proceeds month-to-month to completely different organizations and sanctuaries that create optimistic change in communities. 

Additionally they promote organizations by Stairway’s social media platforms to create consciousness. 

Stairway to Veggin’ has donated greater than $4,000 since final April primarily to businesses within the Triangle space, from LGBTQ facilities to ladies’s facilities, homeless shelters to farm animal sanctuaries.

In 2020 the Barrells determined to depart their dwelling in Pennsylvania and their jobs in finance to pursue this completely different ardour.

The restaurant business wasn’t essentially a spot they noticed themselves as school college students. Angie initially was pre-med and labored as an EMT earlier than she realized the fast-pace and stress wasn’t one thing she desired. She met Matt, a music main, who labored for Vanguard, earlier than shifting on to a distinct firm. 

“We had been in company America and unfulfilled,” Angie stated. “Folks thought we had been loopy after we left our jobs. Our mother and father had been like, ‘You’re doing what?’”

Upon shifting to Durham, they first launched a franchise meals truck. On the finish of the day, they started questioning whether or not the transfer was proper — primarily, they nonetheless had been working for another person.

“It was plenty of time for an additional individual’s ardour, actually — another person’s concepts — and we couldn’t create our personal recipes,” Angie stated.

Branching off on their very own allowed them to meet a philanthropic want for Do Good. The primary group they’ll be working with regionally is Blueberry Lane Farm Animal Sanctuary, which supplies housing and veterinary take care of livestock. A portion of February’s gross sales will go to the Citadel Hayne sanctuary.

“We consider in supporting those that are actually making a distinction on the earth — and we need to present our help,” Angie stated.

At present, Stairway to Veggin’ is open weekends, Friday by Sunday, for lunch and dinner. Orders could be positioned right here.

Matt Barrell sautés candy potatoes for Stairway to Veggin’s second weekend open in Wilmington. (Port Metropolis Every day/Shea Carver)

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