The owners of a vegan cafe in Burlington moved to the New North End a few years ago, fell in love with the neighborhood, and decided to open a second vegan cafe just around the corner from their home.
What is the place?
The first Pingala Café started in February 2014 at the Chace Mill in Burlington, bringing vegan cuisine to a location right across from Winooski. The city’s second location, which seats about 24 customers indoors and a similar number at outdoor picnic tables, opened July 1 on the site of a former New North End market. This place is around the corner from the house that Pingala owners and life partners Trevor Sullivan and Lisa Bergstrom bought just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020.
The new cafe’s menu is the same as its counterpart along the Winooski River. Pingala offers a breakfast sandwich built around herbed tofu, nachos covered in cashew-derived queso or oat milk, hot dogs made with hickory-smoked carrots, and its popular “supreme crunchwrap.” , a stuffed tostada made famous by celebrity restaurateur Guy Fieri on his food network show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”
Pingala’s menu also features oat milk shakes and smoothies. Sullivan said he and Bergstrom also plan to open a “vegan micro-mart” in the new space that will feature fresh produce and items like maple syrup and dried pasta.
After:Pingala gets the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives treatment from Guy Fieri
The interior decor of the North Avenue cafe includes a wall painted with images evoking Burlington-born jam-rock band Phish. These designs include the red circles on a blue background matching the design of a dress often worn by drummer Jon Fishman, as well as whales and dolphins resembling the inflatable versions the band floated above the crowd during their New Year’s show postponed this spring at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The counter is made from a 1968 cut-out box truck acquired from Rathe’s Salvage in Colchester.
“Our mission ultimately is to make vegan food accessible, fun, affordable and delicious,” Sullivan says.
What’s the story behind it?
Pingala opened a few short-lived offshoots in the past. A café in Williston and a Brooklyn-based brick-and-mortar version of the Pingala food truck known as Broccoli Bar each lasted less than a year. (The Broccoli Bar Truck, which started about a year after the original Pingala Café, is still going strong at local events.)
Sullivan and Bergstrom were not initially drawn to the North Avenue space as a cafe. They were looking for a place to open a prep kitchen for Chace Mill coffee, as space was limited there, and they were paying to rent a prep kitchen in what Sullivan described as an unpleasant industrial setting in South Burlington.
They renovated the old market around the corner from their house and decided there was enough room in the space for a cafe. They knew a cafe would also add a source of income to the kitchen where they pre-prepare food for both cafes as well as the Broccoli Bar truck.
The residential neighborhood can use another place to eat, Sullivan and Bergstrom decided. Sullivan said Volcano Asian Cuisine and Bessery’s Butcher Shoppe & Delicatessen are about all within easy walking distance of the neighborhood north of the Ethan Allen Mall.
Residents responded, according to Sullivan. “It’s been really great. We felt a lot of support in the neighborhood,” he said. “Sales have been beyond what we expected.”
Times and place
Pingala Cafe, 1353 North Ave, Burlington. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday to Monday. (802) 999-3558, www.pingalacafe.com