Vegans in Greensboro talk about Jan’s House, the divey diner that once inhabited a storefront on West Market Street, as if discussing a deceased brother. Their sad doe eyes bulge a little as they reminisce about the late nights spent there, rattling off specific orders or memories of particular members of the waitstaff. There’s the same willingness to forgive shortcomings, the same tone of voice and the same sense of partial denial about an untimely and unexpected death.
So it is with great pleasure that the vegans welcome a new birth into the family. At least the ones who know about it.
Jaribu Coffee N Hot Bread, a five-month-old restaurant near Hippo Records on Spring Garden Street, is run by one of their own. One of the proprietors, who gave her name as simply Joan S., not only offers what is probably the only vegan breakfasts in town, but she is also careful to check if patrons want real or faux cheese, mayo and what variety of immitation meat.
That’s because she gets it. She’s vegan, too.
Joan used to work as a caterer in her native Jamaica, her dream job after college, she said. After moving to the United States she started getting sick from processed and unnatural food, motivating her to provide healthy food options to others.
“I like to feed people but I like to do it in a healthy way,” she said.
Joan wanted to offer people something they could eat and not feel guilty about, which does include meat options such as Jamaican jerk chicken, Kenya curry beef, ackee and saltfish, curry goat and oxtail. The list of vegetarian and vegan options is long, and remarkably affordable, including a tofu scramble and vegetarian sandwiches for $4 or less.
Jaribu seems sort of like a makeshift space, sporting harvest-themed decorations, four tables and little else. It’s a satellite location for the family-run business, which is based in Winston-Salem. And though the menu and signs in the window make no mention of it, Jaribu is really intended to be a take-out place, Joan said, a characteristic evidenced by the fact that food is presented in to-go boxes.
Joan paused the crime movie she was watching mid-afternoon and grabbed the lone copy of the menu on the counter by the register to head back into the kitchen to prepare an order. Soon a sizzling sound could be heard coming from the back of the restaurant, the gentle rippling only escalating anticipation.
Among the vegan breakfast options is a dish that resembles a breakfast burrito, served with two small wraps in hot and fresh bread encasing potatoes, peppers, tomato and avocado. It’s challenging to describe the bread, which may be unique to local restaurants, other than to say it is delicious and filling, balancing out the cool avocado and tomato inside.
Customers can choose between several faux meat patties as part of the cheap vegetarian sandwiches, which are easily made vegan. Several vegetables, the hot patty, spinach and real or faux cheese fill out the order, which is significantly more filling than what is offered most anywhere else for such a low price.
Jaribu offers a number of other choices as well, including Jamaican patties, mung bean samosas and chai masala. It currently serves fresh smoothies, and Joan said the owners also plan to add a juice stand for people to make healthy drinks.
By her assessment, plenty of restaurants are offering similar food but aren’t preparing it in healthy ways. But even a quick sampling of Jaribu’s food is enough to see that the take-out joint is more unique than she’s giving it credit for. Especially if you ask the vegans.
Visit Jaribu Coffee N’ Hot Bread at 2823 Spring Garden St. (GSO) any day but Saturday. Call 336-457-0120 for more information.