If you frequent Providence, it’s hard to believe that Plant City opened in the summer of 2019. You may ask yourself: Is this place really only a year-and-a-half old? Wasn’t the all-vegan food hall always abuzz with activity? Was there really a time, not long ago, when you couldn’t order a Tofu Chicken Sandwich with champagne vinegar pickles or meatless Baked Meatballs with macadamia ricotta?
Well, Plant City has another surprise in store: The company will soon open its second location, Plant City X, in Middletown.
“In response to growing demand for plant-based cuisine,” reads Plant City’s online announcement, “the plant-based drive thru will open in the coming months as a miniature version of Providence’s Plant City, the world’s first plant-based food hall.”
Aquidneck Island is overflowing with great restaurants, most of which have adapted to the era of curbside pickup and social distancing. But Middletown and Newport are best known for seafood and international cuisine; vegan kitchens exist, but they have never been a local strong suit. No one knows this need better than Kim Anderson, co-owner of Plant City, who has previously resided in Newport.
Like the original, Plant City X will take over a formerly unglamorous building – in this case a defunct Papa Gino’s on West Main Road. Also like the Providence location, Plant City X will have ample outdoor seating, allowing for 40-80 guests at a time, depending on pandemic requirements. The menu will expand the culinary legacy of Matthew Kenney, celebrity chef and Plant City co-founder. The goal: food so delectable, you’ll forget that there isn’t a molecule of meat or dairy involved.
Not surprisingly, Plant City X will operate a drive-thru for easy, low-contact pickup. This contrasts sharply with the Providence location, which has limited parking and cultivates an urban atmosphere – standing, in fact, about a block away from the new Pedestrian Bridge. West Main Road is far more suburban, and Plant City X shares a sidewalk with fast food joints like Taco Bell and Burger King. A drive-thru will function well here, but instead of serving Whoppers and Crunchwrap Supremes, Plant City X will offer something more, well, garden variety.
And this is probably just the beginning. Since its grand opening, rumors have circulated that Plant City may expand across the state and to other states as well. The Middletown location will likely serve as a pilot. If you love your greens, market research will never have tasted so good.