Trinity Groves is jumping on the vegan bandwagon. The newest entity coming to Phil Romano's West Dallas incubator is called V Spot, from Troy Gardner, owner of Samson's Hot Dogs.
V Spot is taking over the prominently positioned space vacated by Sugar Skull Cafe, the Mexican place from restaurateur Jonn Baudoin that closed in December. Gardner describes the cuisine as "vegan comfort food," and aims to have it open this spring.
Gardner has already built a following in the local vegan community. Part of his menu at Samson's is devoted to vegan options, and he's enjoyed great success with a recent series of vegan holiday dinners, including a two-night Valentine's-themed event coming up on February 13-14.
"About 85 percent of the menu at Samson's is vegan, and the special dinners we've hosted have all sold out," Gardner says.
His original idea was to move Samson's to Trinity Groves to fill the hot dog niche after Romano's hot dog place Hoffman's Hots closed. But Romano had other ideas.
"The next day, I'm meeting with Phil, and we were talking about a vegan concept," Gardner says. "They realized they didn't have any of that market, so I lucked out with the right time and right concept. It's not something he does, but I have to give him credit for being enough of an entrepreneur to step beyond his own personal choices to see that there's merit in this."
Vegan food is pegged as a global trend for 2016, particularly hot with the younger millennial group, which Trinity Groves has yet to attract.
Gardner says that V Spot will be "drastically different" from Samson's.
"For one thing, it's a full-service seated restaurant," he says. "The menu will take off from what we've been doing at these holiday dinners, with kind of a vegan comfort food, but with juices and possibly a bar. But we'll still keep the price point low, like Samson's. It'll be lower than anything else at Trinity Groves."
For example, the menu at the upcoming Valentine's Day event includes dishes such as creamed curry spinach pastry puffs, crispy tofu fingers, beet salad, baked potato soup, five-layer lasagna, tortilla-crusted "chicken," and bananas Foster bread pudding for dessert.
Veteran diners might recognize the name V Spot as a restaurant, also vegan, that opened on Henderson Avenue in November 2011 as Dallas' first serious, high-end vegan restaurant. But it closed in 2012 under a black cloud of unpaid bills and iffy management.
"Somehow, I didn't know that restaurant existed, and I've been doing vegan cooking for years," Gardner says. "But it's the one name out of 40 suggestions I gave to Phil that he liked."