Newtown is set to get a plant-based mega hub when the Greens Super Market complex opens on Enmore Road later this year. It’s the brainchild of Sophia Stewart-Kasimba and Pedro Martinez, the duo behind Newtown’s popular plant-based eatery Vandal Taqueria (and formerly of Contrabando). The hub will house a vegan supermarket, a dine-in plant-based sushi train and a hidden vegan teppanyaki bar. A plant-based pasta bar is also in the works.
“We want to make plant-based shopping accessible and affordable to everyone,” Martinez tells Broadsheet. “The plant-based market is not just for vegans, it’s for people who are curious, and it’s a huge market.”
The hub will occupy two properties side by side on Enmore Road, not too far from the 200-metre south King Street strip known as the “vegan mile”, which is lined with plant-based venues including Vandal, Golden Lotus, Suzy Spoon’s Vegetarian Butcher and Gigi Pizzeria.
One building will house the supermarket. But dispel any Coles and Woolies-esque fluro-lighting images and think more David Jones food hall: exposed brick walls, polished concrete floors, lots of ferns and festoon lighting. The second building will house three different venues: Kimusabi, a sushi train seating around 40 people; Cousin Sal’s, an old-school New York-inspired pasta bar; and Outlaw, a speakeasy-style teppanyaki bar with a cocktail list by Thomas Annys (Contrabando, The Wolf Wine Bar).
“It’s a very collaborative and supportive community on the vegan mile,” Martinez says. “We realised the need for a supermarket to stop everyone running around to a million shops to get the products they need. As a vegan you often need to go to five or six different shops to get your weekly list done, and you also end up spending too much. That sentiment was echoed by our peers and our customers, and it made us realise we really need to open a supermarket.”
The duo has been working as mentors with stallholders from Sydney’s Vegan Market to ensure their products are retail-ready when the hub opens. A commitment to zero food waste will see large amounts of fruit and vegetables, which would otherwise be wasted, repurposed in the restaurants. The couple have spent long hours learning about the supply chains of the brands they will be stocking in order to cater for the many different kinds of vegans out there. They have also designed the business – from the types of cuisines right down to the software – in such a way that they are prepared for any future lockdowns. And customer service will be a linchpin of the experience, with a concierge desk meaning that finding a staff member will never be a trial.
“If you go to Woolies or Coles, it’s often really hard to find someone to serve you. You do the whole thing yourself. People have really missed human interaction in lockdown,” says Martinez. “So we are taking it all the way back and making it very customer service-focused. A lot of people won’t know what they’re looking at or even what they’re looking for because it will be so new to them. It’s important that we have someone available at all times who is knowledgeable about the products.”
Greens Super Market is slated to open in late 2021.