The Ground Floor: Iowa City eatery serving up a vegan revival
Fresh produce and local, organic grains staples in alternative menu
When the Red Avocado, a vegan and vegetarian eatery in Iowa City, was torn down last year, former co-owner Katy Meyer was disheartened.
Less than four months after the Red Avocado was razed, Meyer opened Trumpet Blossom Café less than a mile away. It is modeled after the same vegan food concept, but is a bit more “comfort food” oriented, Meyer said.
“We have a deep fryer now, so we have sweet potato fries and regular hand-cut fries,” she said. “We also have a lot of desserts and a full bar.
"That’s different than the Red Avocado. We try to make super fun cocktails with fresh juice.”
Meyer, who has lived in Iowa City for 14 years, said she’s been vegetarian for 10 years and just recently decided to try being vegan.
She said it started as a taste preference for her – she simply didn’t like meat. But it developed into an ethics and health-related decision.
After graduating from the University of Iowa, Meyer took a job at the Red Avocado in 2003 because of its vegetarian style. She became a partner in 2005, joining two other owners, and she spent a lot of time in the kitchen.
“I learned a lot while working there,” she said, “like how to cook without animal products and how to cook seasonally.”
So when the Red Avocado closed and the two other owners decided to do something different, Meyer struck out on her own as a new restaurant entrepreneur.
“I had always imagined doing something like this as long as I possibly can,” she said. “So when it came about that I was not going to do it at the Red Avocado, my first reaction was to continue cooking vegan food somewhere else in Iowa City.”
Trumpet Blossom strives to use the freshest ingredients and make as much of its food in house — even creating its own vegan cheese, Meyer said.
“I do a lot of the cooking,” she said. “For me, that’s the fun part. That’s why I started doing this and would like to continue doing this.
"I love creating new things and experimenting.”
The restaurant uses a lot of fresh produce and local and organic grains. Meyer said she also uses traditional vegan ingredients like tofu and tempeh.
“We try to make the food familiar because vegan food can be a hurdle at first,” she said. “But I feel like I need to give people more credit for trying new things and being open to food they’ve never had before.”
She said only half her customers, if that, are vegan. Many, she said, are just interested in eating healthfully.
“We try to show people that it’s just food,” she said. “It just happens to be different food than they're used to.”
Trumpet Blossom Café seats 80 diners inside and 35 on its patio, and it has a stage for live music.
“Just because it’s a vegan restaurant doesn’t mean people can’t have fun and get a great meal here,” she said. “We don’t want to be pigeonholed.”
Owner: Katy Meyer
Company: Trumpet Blossom Cafe
Address: 310 E. Prentiss St., Iowa City
Hours: Opens at 11 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday, closes at 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Closed Mondays.Favorite menu item: “I’m a huge peanut butter fan, so I like the sautéed veggies with ginger peanut sauce. I really enjoy all the desserts, too.”