By Abbie Lahmers
“I personally live a vegan lifestyle,” explains Michelle Politano, owner and chef of vegan restaurant PiANTA, “but my creative energy in the kitchen blossomed when I began recreating the meals my family loves, but this time full of health, wellness, and plants. This is the muse behind the PiANTA menu.” Both paying homage to her Italian upbringing and forging ahead with healthier eating patterns, Politano opened PiANTA (which means “plant” in Italian) last month to bring something for everyone to the table, and since then she’s been serving all kinds of eaters via pickup and delivery.
Politano describes a menu that’s “as true to the Earth as it gets”, from a Beet and Pistachio Bowl and healthy wraps to reimagined Loaded Italian Subs and Fettuccini Alfredo. Citrus Marinated Tomatoes were inspired by her studies in Rome where she learned to cook bright, acidic dishes with pure ingredients from a pizza chef who marinated his tomatoes in orange and lemon juice from the Amalfi coast. More than health-forward and plant-based, Politano aims to serve food people can fall in love with.
CUPS, or the Collaborative Union of Providence Service-Workers, has been engaging with the public and fundraising for the past several months to reach their goal of officially buying White Electric Coffee, recently up for sale by its owners, where their numbers worked as staff but will soon reimagine the West Side staple as a worker-owned cooperative cafe. Their journey to ownership began in light of the Black Lives Matter movement and workplace justice amid the pandemic and culminated into dialogue with the former owners, the formation of an independent union, and now ownership.
Their mission is founded around collective input, living wages, tenets of equity and inclusion, and not least of all, serving fresh, local pastries, sandwiches, and coffee in a cozy space. “Beyond our goals for our own workplace, we hope to serve as advocates and a model for alternative business configurations in Rhode Island,” explains member Chloe Chassaing. “Co-owning a worker cooperative business is a lot more feasible for most people, compared to individual ownership, especially for people from lower-wealth backgrounds.” @cups.ri
Known for their roaming cocktail catering service, B?S broke ground on a new brick-and-mortar HQ to operate out of, but the space will function as more than just a home base for the existing business. Owner Michael Silva, who runs B?S with his girlfriend Miellette McFarlane, joined Tatiana Beana and Kelly Powers to create a multi-media recreational space called “booth.”. “As a minority- and women-owned business, our mission is to provide a physical space and platform for Black and brown artists, entrepreneurs, and creatives to be able to express themselves and share their stories,” explains Silva. “We want to create a space where folks can just be.”
Along with cocktail classes and pop-ups, Silva will continue developing MXR Kits, a pandemic at-home happy hour staple that comes with the ingredients to make four each of two specialty cocktails – one classic and one original. A new gin box features a Gimlet and a fresh take on Bees Knees called Little Honey, with lemon juice, honey syrup, rose tea, rose water, and a garnish of dehydrated rose petals.
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