ITHACA, N.Y. — Local residents will soon be able to enjoy diner favorites like fries, mozzarella sticks, milkshakes and burgers — all completely plant-based — at the new Angelhearts Diner coming to the former Napoli Pizzeria space in the Gateway Center.
Owner Kim Engelheart has been vegan for about 16 years. She said she originally had the idea to open a plant-based restaurant around 2010, but her plans were put on hold when she had to move away from the Ithaca area — but now she is back and ready to make the idea a reality.
Engelheart began by taking family recipes and making them vegan. Both meat-eaters and plant-based folks seemed to enjoy them.
“I’ve been taking my dishes to different events that, of course, are made up of mixed diners, and they’ve all pretty much liked the dishes that I’ve made,” Engelheart said.
Everything in the former pizza shop has been removed to make way for Angelhearts. The space has been freshly painted, and all of the equipment has been replaced. There’s also new flooring and furniture. The team is hopeful that the diner will be ready for a soft opening at the beginning of August if there are no delays.
Diners can expect a variety of comfort foods, including a seitan cheesesteak with housemade seitan and a housemade cashew cheese sauce.
“One of our specialties is a beet burger. And that is a housemade burger patty with a quinoa, beet and chickpea blend. It’s going to be topped with smoked coconut bacon that we smoke in house, as well. That, as it is, is a wheat-free option,” said Engelheart.
While Angelhearts will not be a gluten-free facility, the menu will have wheat-free options.
For breakfast, the diner will serve tofu scrambles and breakfast burritos using Ithaca soy, as well as different breakfast sandwiches. Chicken and waffles, using the housemade seitan, will also be available.
The team comes with experience in the food industry. Katie Arnold and Evan Engelhart were both former baristas at Gimme! Coffee, and Jordan Engelhart has worked at Manndible Cafe, as well as the former ABC Cafe. They’ll be bringing their barista skills to the diner with plant-based espresso drinks.
“We want it (Angelhearts) to be welcoming to everybody,” Engelheart said. “Welcoming and inviting, which is part of the reason that we like comfort food- because everyone likes comfort food.”
Angelhearts will be located at 401 E. State St. at the Gateway Center.
Featured image: Some of the Angelhearts Team: Evan, Katie, Kim, Jordan and Christian (From left to right)