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Vegan Drive-Thru Launches Fast Food Revolution in Highland Park

Chef Genise Castaneda hopes to offer convenient vegan options to working families.

During this past weekend’s Second Saturday Gallery Night, chef Genise Castaneda offered what she hoped is the first taste of the Vegan fast food revolution in Highland Park.

Curious Angeleno gourmands lined up in front of 4933 York Boulevard as soon as Plant Food for People began dishing out “Carnitas” Jack Fruit tacos at around 6 p.m., for what was a sort of sneak peek of an eatery Castaneda hopes becomes a neighborhood staple.

The plan is to set up shop on York within 6 months and establish the city’s first drive-thru Vegan restaurant, Castaneda said.

“It really needs to be a drive-thru,” Castaneda said. “It’s a convenience thing. Everybody eats fast food and they associate that with the drive-thru. “

A lifelong resident of Highland Park who currently resides near the corner of York and Ave. 50, Castaneda said she chose to set up shop on York in part because she believed there was a market in place given the growing number artists living and working in the area.

“You can definitely feel the creativity; it’s in the air,” she said. “I’m really plugged into the community, there’s a lot of things going on and it’s all positive.”

Locals may have already tasted Castaneda's vegan fare at , wher she has provided catering, prior to Saturday's soft launch.

However, Castaneda said the mission of Plant food For People goes beyond serving out trendy tacos to local artists and college students. She’s a fast food revolutionary.

Castaneda said that with Plant Food for People, she hopes to reach out to those who may have never considered the benefits of a Vegan diet, or those who simply want a healthier option during the lunch-time rush.

“I want people to see that all kinds of food can be healthy, even fast food,” she said.

Castaneda, 30, said she began her own nutritional revolution about 5 years ago, when she was diagnosed with gallstones.

“It shocked me and it kind of opened my eyes,” she said. “So I researched for a long time and determined that veganism was right for me.”

She said she honed her cooking chops through necessity after converting to a meat and animal product free diet.

“Little by little you start with tofu because that’s what everybody knows, but you get a little bored and that compels you to broaden your research,” she said. “Now that I’m a vegan, I feel like my food options are much broader than they were before.”

Castaneda said she'll be running a few more tasting events like last weekends in the lead up to Plant Food for People's launch.

Anna Carpenter June 14, 2011 at 07:35 PM
This is wonderful! Can't wait to try it.
hippierunner June 14, 2011 at 08:59 PM
I was one of the first in line because a vegan place nearby sounded too good to be true, I had to check it out immediately. I'm happy to say the tacos were AMAZING: the beans, the vegan carnitas and the slaw were so delicioso! I can't wait for next time! Btw, it's sneak peek! (not peak!)
sweatywest June 14, 2011 at 09:09 PM
Where exactly will they open? None of the articles I've seen on them make that clear
Milla Goldenberg June 14, 2011 at 09:38 PM
awesome idea. i'm not even vegan but i'll certainly try it.
David Fonseca (Editor) June 14, 2011 at 09:46 PM
There's no set date yet, but the owner said she was shooting for six months.
sweatywest June 14, 2011 at 09:55 PM
Thanks David - but I meant where as in where will the actual location be?
David Fonseca (Editor) June 14, 2011 at 10:00 PM
@SW: According to the owners, it would be at 4933 York Boulevard. They're hoping to transform that location into a drive-thru. I will swing by later today and get a photo of the building.
sweatywest June 14, 2011 at 10:01 PM
Yep - that could take six months!
Diana August 02, 2011 at 02:53 AM
I have tried their tamales at Figueroa Produce, and ate some tacos at the recent vegan BBQ. I am so excited to hear that they are planning to open up their own shop - and one with a drive-thru! It is so great to create a healthy and affordable convenient food option for busy people! We are really looking forward to it.

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