Swindon Link visited vegan restaurant The Veeg Shack, located at Gorse Hill.
The Veeg Shack was orginally a catering van business that founder Amy Smith set up three years ago.
She would operate from the van, and take the vehicle to different events. She would also do pop-up catering at various kitchens within the area.
Since January of this year, Amy has set up shop permanently on Cricklade Road, and The Veeg Shack is now a fully fledged restaurant serving a solely vegan menu. She sold her food van during lockdown, as all her catering events were cancelled during the pandemic.
Amy opted to take redundancy pay from her full time job and decided to continue running The Veeg Shack from home. She said she secured the keys to the space in Gorse Hill in the November of last year, and worked tirelessly through to January of this year, to ensure the restaurant area was fit for the public.
She spoke of her experience running her new restaurant so far: "It is stressful but it’s 100% rewarding. When I got this place in November, I managed to pick up the keys just before I contracted covid. That month was super busy and stressful and I had to kit the space out with a kitchen. It took me right up until January to get to this point and have the restaurant area ready.
"I’m a lot busier now that I have this space to serve my customers. As much as I love doing catering events, you’re more limited that way. It’s great to have this property and do the odd catering jobs on the side now. I especially love catering for weddings and birthdays."
The Veeg Shack offers a Day & Evening menu, and a seperate Brunch menu. The Brunch menu is available from 12pm - 4:30pm on weekdays and from 10am on Saturdays. The Day & Evening menu is available every open day from 12pm - 10pm.
In addition, Amy runs a 'Fryday menu' on the Friday of each week, which offers customers a vegan take on fish and chips.
As well as being the founder of the business, Amy is also the sole chef in the kitchen. She said she mainly runs the business by herself, but has her friend and her partner on hand to help out with table service or front of house duties when she needs them.
The vegan restaurateur added: "I don’t see my menu as that extensive really – I do a lot of prep to help myself and I don’t find the workload too bad. My most popular dishes seem to be the Mac n Cheeze, the Snackchos Nachos, the Jumbo Notdogs and the burgers.”
Amy has been vegan for just over five years, and said the inspiration for the Veeg Shack came from her time spent at festivals and other events.
She explained: “My friends and I would go to a lot of festivals and found there was nothing really for us vegans to eat apart from chips or falafel (as long as the chips were cooked in separate oil). I’m not the biggest fan of falafel and I was fed up with the lack of options.
“When we would attend these festivals or other events, it would seem that there would not be any normal food provided for vegans. I could never understand that. But don’t get me wrong, the fact that most restaurants even provide vegan food now is great, and I think that things are moving in the right direction. At least we’re past the point of just having a salad option.”
Amy also has made it her goal to support local businesses. She displays local artists' artwork that is for sale on her walls, and also uses local food businesses as her suppliers for some of her desserts and sweet treats. Recently she has linked with Nova Bakes (a local vegan food company) and Int-olerance (gluten free and vegan cakes).
The Veeg Shack owner has also tried her hand at making her own dog treats, so customers can purchase something nice for their pets too.
When asked if being a chef was always a career plan for the future, Amy said: “I’ve always loved cooking but never thought about pursuing it fully as a career up until now. I feel like if you enjoy something and you’re good at it, why not make something of that?
“I grew up in a house with little to nothing at times, so we got used to looking in the cupboards and making a meal or something tasty out of empty cupboards.”
As well as indoor seating, the restaurant has a garden area that Amy has been working hard to renovate. She has two seating areas outside, and plans to create a decking area to free up more space for customers.
She said: "My aim with The Veeg Shack restaurant is to create a family-orientated and relaxed vibe - a real place for the community. I want people to come in, chill, and enjoy their food. We also have a games cupboard which customers really seem to love!”
Aside from the food, The Veeg Shack offers members of the public coffees, teas and other soft beverages to purchase. For those that are looking for an alcoholic drink, there is also a 'bring your own booze' option, where individuals can pay a corkage fee.
The opening hours for the restaurant are:
- Wednesday to Friday: 12 - 4.30pm, then again from 6 - 10pm
- Saturdays: 8am - 10pm
More information about The Veeg Shack can be found online at https://www.facebook.com/TheVeegShack/