Fellow Traveler Plant-Based Bar and Cafe Opening January 21 in Englewood


“It’s been an ordeal,” Joe Phillips says of opening Fellow Traveler — a five-year ordeal, to be exact. After working as a bartender for years, including nearly a decade at Sputnik, Phillips knew bartending was not a sustainable career. “I was tired, it’s hard work,” he admits. So, in 2017, he began the process of opening what he calls “the bar where I would like to go”.

But then the first two potential locations for Fellow Traveler fell through. After running into more trouble getting a liquor license for a space in West Wash Park, Phillips and the bar’s co-owners, Singkorn Dhawornvej and Phillips’ wife, Kimberly Kutt, looked to 3487 South Broadway in Englewood and decided to buy the building.

The team was working towards an opening in June 2020 when, as the pandemic worsened and the future for bars and restaurants looked bleak, the bank decided to pull out three days before the loan was supposed to go ahead. . “We had to scramble,” says Phillips, explaining that they borrowed from family members and mortgaged their homes in order to fund the project themselves.

And now, Fellow Traveler is finally becoming a reality and will celebrate its grand opening on Friday, January 21 at 5 p.m. “It’s hard to understand,” admits Phillips. “As the years pass, you start to wonder, ‘Is this even going to happen?'”

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The name is partly a nod to Sputnik – which means “traveling companion”. As Philips notes, the bar that bears that name, at 3 South Broadway, “has been my home for so many years.” The term also has a history of being used by groups like the LGBTQ community to identify allies, a fact that aligns with Phillips’ own “left of center” politics. Moreover, it refers to the inspiration he got from his real-life travels with his wife, especially in Spain and France.

“The goal is to make it a place that will suit everyone,” says Phillips, whether you’re looking for a $3 domestic beer or a $40 bourbon. But there’s one thing you won’t find here: meat. Phillips has been a vegetarian for several years and wanted his bar to serve the kind of food he likes to eat. Chef Ross Pullen, who recently spearheaded his own take-out and delivery vegan barbecue concept, JackBeQue, will lead the kitchen.

“We want to make dishes that your great-grandmother would have made,” says Phillips — if your great-grandmother made whole vegetable dishes that didn’t rely on meat alternatives. The kitchen will be open until midnight for a much-needed late-night dining option in the area; in addition to lunch and dinner, a weekend brunch will also be available on Saturdays and Sundays.

“I wish more people would embrace a meatless lifestyle,” Phillips notes, adding that he takes inspiration from restaurants like Somebody People, which serves Mediterranean-inspired cuisine that happens to be vegan.

Although the opening date is finally in sight, Phillips knows that Fellow Traveler will continue to evolve. “Kindness and curiosity” drive his team, he says, “so teaching and learning from each other” is the next phase of the plan.

Fellow Traveler is located at 3487 South Broadway and will be open 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. until Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit fellowtravelerenglewood.com.


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