Owners Nicole Marsh (left) and Brittany Friedrich-Matheson of The Salty Caramel Kitchen hold open of their vegan-friendly muffins in Okanagan Centre. The vegan cafe opened last month. - Carli Berry/Capital News

Owners Nicole Marsh (left) and Brittany Friedrich-Matheson of The Salty Caramel Kitchen hold open of their vegan-friendly muffins in Okanagan Centre. The vegan cafe opened last month. - Carli Berry/Capital News

Vegan-friendly cafe opens in Lake Country

The Salty Caramel Kitchen opened last month in Okanagan Centre

A little cafe nestled at the corner of Okanagan Centre Road and 4th Street is bringing plant-based options to Lake Country.

The district’s first vegan-only cafe, The Salty Caramel Kitchen, opened for business July 7.

Owners Brittany Friedrich-Matheson and her mother Nicole Marsh decided to open the shop in order to provide residents with gluten-free vegan options.

“We started making cakes from our house, because there were no vegan cakes in Kelowna so we started that two years ago for people and it just became too much; I love cooking too so we decided to do our own full-blown restaurant with cakes on the side,” Friedrich-Matheson said.

“I’ve been vegan for five years now and my mom has been for three and a half so it made sense for us and there are not many other options for Lake Country.”

Related: Where to find the best ingredients for a vegan charcuterie board in the Okanagan

The Salty Caramel Kitchen is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily except for Mondays, offers an all-day breakfast menu, and the breakfast burrito and BLT have been pretty popular, Friedrich-Matheson said, as well as the cafe’s ice cream sandwiches for regulars.

“We make our bacon in-house, the greek wrap is also really popular and we’re coming out with a brunch menu pretty soon,” she said. The wrap is made with homemade vegan taziki, which Friedrich-Matheson said she hasn’t seen anywhere else in town.

What started out as a healthy lifestyle, eventually transitioned into The Salty Caramel’s opening, she said.

“Initially, it was just health… but then I went full vegan for the animals and ethics and environment and everything,” Friedrich-Matheson said. The restaurant also features compostable to-go containers and metal straws for sale.

Residents and tourists are also responding well, and some are pleasantly surprised by the plant-based menu that is offered.

“We get people who will come in and they’re sceptical and they’re looking for eggs,” she said. “A lot of people try it and they’re open to it and they like it.”

There’s a demand for baked goods in the district, Friedrich-Matheson said.

There’s more of a demand for baking. When people go to a cafe there’s usually only a few vegan options, she said. “People are not used to having a whole display case, and it was what my mom is super good at.”

About 30 to 40 per cent of customers have been tourists so far.

Related: Most vegans, vegetarians in Canada are under 35: poll

“I’m sure in the fall we’ll have to change our hours a little bit since it might die down around here,” Friedrich-Matheson said.

But the shop is aiming to get a liquor licence and be open for dinner, as well as doing more catering with cake orders in the wintertime, she added.

Friedrich-Matheson never wanted a typical job and runs the marketing side of the business while her mother looks after the cooking.

Marsh began creating vegan-friendly options when her daughter became vegan, and it evolved from there.

Their flour is what sets them apart, Friedrich-Matheson said, made by combining several flours to create a top-secret blend.

Find the cafe at 11407 Okanagan Centre Road West.

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carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

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