A new vegan cafe is opening in Birmingham city centre.
Fressh in Victorian City Arcade is the latest vegan eatery to open in the city centre as demand for the plant based diet continues to rise.
Owner Vijay Singh said he hopes to attract a wide audience to the cafe, which will serve everything from vegan meatballs to mac ‘n’ cheese.
He says: “For this business to work we need to be serving everyone, not just vegans. So we want people to come in, close their eyes and say: ‘Yes... that tastes really nice’.
“The whole shop has been designed to look fresh, even though we know that by having everything white will mean we will have to work that bit harder to keep it looking as fresh as the day we opened.”
With craft beer cafe Tilt at the other end, the cafe should help to further revitalise the Victorian City Arcade in Union Street.
Vijay adds: “I think this is great location in terms of footfall and I just hope that people come to try us out.
“Hopefully the business will take off so that we can open a second Fressh in Birmingham in a location where I know there will be high demand for vegan food.
“I think people are now more receptive to eating plant-based food.
“We’ve kept the menu choice limited to improve quality – because we are making everything from scratch we can’t offer too many choices so when we start breakfasts there will be eight items.
“But whether people eat meat or not I would hope that everyone wants to try eating at Fressh, just to see how tasty that kind of food can be.
“We are not using any ‘mock meats’ because they are still processed.
“And our organic coffee will be Direct Trade, not Fairtrade, because we think it’s 100 per cent better in terms of farmers getting a better deal.”
Birmingham saw its first fully vegan cafe - Natural Healthy Foods - open in the city centre earlier this year.
What’s on the menu at Fressh?
Fressh will have two main selling points according to Vijay – the freshness of the food and the quality of service.
The menu boards have been kept very simple and limited so that people can quickly make their minds up what they want to help the staff to work more efficiently.
Vijay adds: “I think vegans will love our Mac ‘N’ Cheese and everyone will love our salads – there’s a real gap in the market for good salads.”
Cold drinks: peanut butter or banana and cacao smoothies, £3.95 each; homemade lemonade £2.95, organic coconut water £2.95, organic kombucha £2.95, still water £1.25.
Hot drinks: latte, cappuccino, flat white and Americano £2.85 each, espresso £1.95, hot chocolate £2.55, English tea £1.80, green tea £1.95, fruit teas £1.95.
Matcha latte £2.45, turmeric latte £3.25.
Extras: caramel, vanilla, hazelnut or cinnamon syrups, 50p.
All drinks are dairy free and served with soya milk as standard – coconut, oat and almond milks also available.
Soups ‘n’ Sides
Soup bowl (gluten free) £3.75
Baked kale crisps (never fried!) £1.95
Bakes skin-on fries (never fried!) £2.25
Chick-P and butternut squash curry (includes spinach, coriander and spiced coconut sauce) with quinoa – £5.95.
Salads and Wraps
Kale caesar (£5.75 out, £6.90 in)
Chickpea nicoise (£7.75 out, £6.90 in)
Taco bowl (£5.95 out, £7.14)
Quinoa Falafel (£5.95 out, £7.14 in)
Mushroom and brown rice meatballs with marinara sauce, mozzarella – £6.75 (add baked fries for £1).
Mac ‘n’ cheese – sweet potato, almond sauce, coconut bacon, almond parmesan (£5.95)
Cashew pesto pasta – cashew and basil pesto, plum tomatoes, almond parmesan (£5.45 out, £6.54 in)
Burgers – £6.95 (baked fries £1 extra)
Son of a Bun – black been and sweet potato patty, onion, gherkins, cheese, Fressh sauce, sourdough bun
What the Guac – black been and sweet potato patty, guacamola, onion, salsa, tortilla chips, Fressh sauce, jalapenos, sourdough bun
Who is Vijay Singh?
Vijay was born in Wolverhampton to parents who then took him back to India when he was seven while his father built a hotel.
With Mr Singh Sr having run pizza outlets for both Domino’s and Papa John’s – albeit without involvement from his son – you can see where Vijay’s entrepreneurial ambition to create a food business of his own has come from.
Vijay has previously run an online e-commerce business dealing in beauty products imported from China.
“Two years ago I knew I was eating too much meat and I became vegan after seeing a documentary designed to put you off eating meat.
“I literally went cold turkey overnight and I could soon see the benefits.
“I thought I would do it for a month, but just carried on.
“With Fressh, we don’t want to be preachy about veganism, we just want people to come and enjoy good food that happens to be vegan.”
Where and when is Fressh open?
Fressh opens on Saturday, October 21 from about 11am.
From Monday, October 30 it will be open from 7am to serve breakfast, too.
Thereafter regular hours will be from 7am-6pm Monday to Friday and from 9am-6pm on Saturdays.
At the moment, Fressh will not open on Sundays.
5 City Arcade off Union Street, Birmingham B2 4TX