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Pura Vegan: Pizza Verde

Moving from a pop-up pizza concept to a full-menu brick-and-mortar, the forthcoming Pizza Verde in Fort Worth, Texas, proudly embraces a 100% plant-based menu.

Posted on April 2, 2021

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As Jennifer White Cabarubio and Landon Cabarubio plan to open the doors of Pizza Verde in July 2021, the husband-and-wife team reflects on the long road to plant-based pizzeria ownership. “We became vegan just over three years ago,” Jennifer explains. “At the time, there was only one fully vegan restaurant in Fort Worth, where we’re from, and I assumed that was normal. But that year, I took a few business trips and was truly wowed by the variety of vegan options in other metropolitan cities. I came home completely convinced that Fort Worth could be the same—and, as an active member in online vegan groups for our area, I already knew there was a huge market.”

At the time, Jennifer and Landon were running a very different kind of small business—selling vinyl records—and planned to open a store, but several other entrepreneurs beat them to the punch. “Around that time, I started dropping hints that maybe we should consider pivoting to something surrounding veganism, like buying a franchise of an already established vegan restaurant,” Jennifer recalls. “After a lot of discussion, we decided it was important for us to retain full ownership and creative freedom in whatever business venture we take. We’ve always been huge pizza lovers, and Landon had recently picked up making pizza from scratch, so the decision to open a pizzeria came pretty naturally.”

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Plant-Based for the People

The Cabarubios chose to open an all-vegan restaurant not only because they saw a need in the market, but because the move aligns with their personal ethics: reducing harm to the planet, people and animals. And, luckily, while operating in pandemic times as a part-time pop-up out of Fort Worth’s Black Cat Pizza, the pair found that plenty of flexitarian and omnivore customers also adore their plant-based pies. “Our menu is plant-based, but it’s for everyone,” Jennifer explains. “Our mission is to create great tasting food. Period. We find that while some people are looking to incorporate a few meatless meals into their diets, many just appreciate good pizza when they find it and couldn’t care less about the plant-based label.”

Jennifer and Landon always had their sights set on a brick-and-mortar location, so their initial pop-up setup acted as a helpful testing ground for the product, allowing them to network with the community and get some experience under their belts. The pizzas (featuring Pizza Verde’s own almond-based housemade mozzarella) include everything from standards like the Margherita to exotic specialties like the Kimchi, with a hot oil and garlic base, mozzarella, kimchi, gochujang “beef,” sesame spinach and sesame seeds. “Every pizza on our current menu will stay, but we will have a much larger menu of pizzas to choose from, as well as a small selection of apps, salads, Italian-inspired entrees and desserts,” Jennifer says. “Our best seller was the Potato Leek, which has a garlic and oil base, our housemade mozzarella, potatoes, leeks, rosemary and lemon aioli.”

Ingredient Intel

Jennifer believes that high heat and high-quality housemade cheese are two components of Pizza Verde’s great-tasting pies, but the pizzeria is also open to buying standout premade ingredients to accent the menu. “Unless you’re making cheese yourself, treat yourself and go for that top-dollar brand—you really will taste the difference,” Jennifer advises. “As a business, we do love making things from scratch (we make our dough and mozzarella in-house), but we also love supporting other vegan small businesses, so if there is a product from another company that is top-notch, we will always explore that option.”

Not surprisingly, the Cabarubios have been encouraged by the recent surges in the quality and variety of alternatives in the plant-based space. “Veganism is the future!” Jennifer asserts. “Businesses in every industry are seeing the demand and adapting. The quality of products coming out these days makes incorporating plant-based products into your life easier than ever before, and I cannot wait to see where we are in the next few years.”

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A Growing Community

Because vegans comprise such a strong community, the Pizza Verde praises are being spread far and wide in advance of the company’s new brick-and-mortar location. (The pizzeria is also generating fan support while under construction by selling totes, tees and gift cards on its website.) “Vegans are incredibly well-networked, so we find it easy to stay connected to that community through social media,” Jennifer notes. “For non-vegans, we try to let the food speak for itself, but word-of-mouth is also crucial. Nothing makes a sale quite like the glowing review of a meat eater saying they couldn’t tell their food was vegan!”

And, as diets from vegan to flexitarian attract more consumers, the Cabarubio duo believes that the plant-based revolution will continue to pick up steam. “I think you can see the trend of consumers taking interest in how their purchases affect the world, across all industries,” Jennifer concludes. “Whether it be for physical health, climate change or animal welfare, there are a lot of reasons to incorporate plant-based eating into your regular routine. As high-quality products become readily available and are price competitive, I think we will only see this trend increase.”

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