When thinking of switching to veganism, many are unsure how they would make the lifestyle transition and if their food experiences will be as rewarding. Cudahy’s own Twisted Plants is giving Milwaukee residents looking to explore the possibilities of going vegan another reason to go for it as they open up a second establishment on Milwaukee’s East Side located on East Brady Street.
Married couple Arielle and Brandon Hawthorne are co-owners of Twisted Plants, and their new location has been successful in expanding the name behind their culinary magic. Twisted Plants’ food is 100% vegan, delicious, and reminiscent of any quick-service style restaurant where you might stop to pick up a quick sandwich or appetizer. With a menu full of burgers, sides to go with them, and treats to top it all off, the potential to explore new flavors and combinations requires repeat visits. Brandon Hawthorne is well aware of just how good the food is, and is taking the expansion in stride as considerations of what paths to take emerge alongside a necessity to navigate an economy where prices are increasing for everybody.
“We try to cut back on expenses as much as possible by going to our local stores, and going to our farmers’ markets,” said Hawthorne. “Not going to a full-line distributor, just because sometimes their prices are not the best. We’re learning you have to definitely stay local sometimes if the price is right. In that regard, it’s been good, for the most part…We definitely strive year in and year out for excellent customer service and excellent food. That’s what’s gonna keep us growing.”
While many restaurants have had to increase prices to match increased costs, especially family-owned restaurants, the question of where the quality will land is always on customers’ minds. From the reaction so far to the Brady Street location, Hawthorne is sure that even in the face of changing prices, what they have to offer in taste and experience will continue to draw interest in the populous area.
“When we heard East Side and Brady Street it was like, that might be a good opportunity,” Hawthorne said. “It pretty much panned itself out pretty well. This area versus Cudahy, there’s definitely more foot traffic, and you have more area businesses…I think Brady Street is still developing. I’d say within a mile area, there’s more apartment units, more condos, and things of that nature where we can see ourselves being here for a good amount of time. Along with our customer base just growing.”
Hawthorne spoke to the benefit of being in an area where people may be out to shop more and may be looking to try new eating experiences. For anyone first discovering Twisted Plants, they are sure to be met with great food and a fun atmosphere as even the burger names take inspiration from classic “Stoner Movies.” It is not every day that you come across a 100% vegan and Black-owned restaurant, but Hawthorne hopes that through more exposure, people will start to see the potential in what can be done without meat.
“I feel like the more exposure we have as a Black business that’s actually providing an alternative to the standard American diet, it will put a light on more Black individuals supporting us and learning more about vegetarianism or veganism,” said Hawthorne. “Even like meatless Mondays, where you give up meat one day of the week, just to see how it goes.”
Although to many, veganism may be synonymous with bland and boring food, Twisted Plants selections do not have hang-ups on diet and skimping on size. The veganism at Twisted Plants makes the food light, but full of flavor, and the portions are perfect for a quick sit-down or takeout option. Hawthorne reflected on how many people may be surprised by the foods they start to look at differently once Twisted Plants puts their twist on it, such as the jackfruit they marinate and offers as a component across multiple of their innovative creations.
Hawthorne’s thoughts on what they offer is a “healthier alternative for your body and for your environment” and align with what they hope to venture into to satisfy as many customers as possible.
“You can go anywhere and get a salad for the most part and veganize it, or a wrap with hummus or black bean patties,” he said. “We definitely feel like that is an option that’s already available, but I feel like when we put our twist on it, it will also open up to light where, ‘I had a wrap but I’ve never had a wrap like this, or I had a smoothie, but this smoothie is good.’ That’s definitely on the horizon, we’re trying to offer that. When we venture off into it, it’d be like a to-go option where somebody’s trying to grab something for lunch or breakfast, and they can stop in and grab it to go.”
Hawthorne assured that Twisted Plants is on the intended path even through the growing pains. Unexpected expenses and not wanting to get ahead of themselves have led the Hawthornes to be well aware of where their priorities lie, and to keep the bar of execution high. Just as Twisted Plants looks to support and provide great food for the community, it will take people finding and patronizing the exciting eatery to keep the local magic going.
“Just support your local businesses,” Hawthorne said in closing. “Those dollars really do stay in the community, to where it ricochets to each individual. We do a lot of community events and we do a lot of community givebacks. Anyone that reaches out, we definitely try to accommodate them, whether it be gift cards or waving vendor fees or food trucks fee, just to show that we are here for the community.”
To learn more about the history of Twisted Plants, check out Madison365’s January 2022 article titled “Black-owned Twisted Plants offers plant-based, vegan comfort food in Milwaukee,” by Angelica Euseary. To learn more about Twisted Plants and check out their menu options, visit their website here.