Cafe Ollie launches Tuesday, selling veggetarian fare… and the occasional record

Ypsi’s newest restaurant, Cafe Ollie, will be celebrating its grand opening in Depot Town on Tuesday, February 1. The Cafe, which has actually been open for about a week now, is owned by Ypsi locals Danielle Scherwin and Mark Teachout. The festivities are scheduled to begin at 7:00 PM, with bands playing at about 8:00. As of right now, the lineup includes Swimsuit, Jason Ajemian, Hush Arbors, and Danny Kroha. It should be a good time, assuming people aren’t scared off by the the snowpocalypse we’re told is coming our way.

I’ve yet to eat there, but I’ve heard good things though the grapevine, and, given their focus on vegetarian and vegan fare, I know they’ve already got a number of enthusiastic supporters. (They’ll be serving meat dishes as well.) Here’s wishing them all the best.

img_1828Oh, and in addition to coffee, food and ice cream, folks will be able to buy the work of local musicians at Cafe Ollie. A group calling itself the Ypsi Music Shelf Entertainment Distro Transnational Consortium has taken over a shelf in the cafe, from which they will be offering, “a pretty sick cross-section of self-releasing artists and low-to-the-ground friends & neighbors.” Among others, they’ll be selling works on the Life Like label, Ginko Records and Kuma Tapes. (If you’d like to find out about consignment opportunities, leave your email in the comments section, and I’ll make sure someone gets back to you.)

The photos you see accompanying this post are of the shelf in question, which, I expect, could grow, if people actually start buying merchandise. It’s not a perfect solution to the problem of not having a local record store, but it’s a great, creative step in the right direction, and I’d very much like to see it work out for everyone involved… So, if you’ve still got a few bucks after you buy that Faygo, think about picking up a single, OK?

OK, there’s one more thing I wanted to share with you. The following review of Cafe Ollie was written by a vegetarian friend of mine who ate there today.

Like any new business, they’ll have to work out their kinks and put a “system” in place. We paid when we ordered, but had to ask to do so, then, when we were leaving, the guy said, “so are you ready to pay now?”

I got the VLT (vegan bacon, lettuce, tomato, with vegan mayo on sourdough). Dining Partner got the vegan grilled cheese. We split our sandwiches, so that we could each try what the other ordered. We both agreed that the VLT was really good! The vegan bacon had the taste, texture, and saltiness of what we remember bacon to taste like. The bread was soft with a crunchy crust, and the lettuce/tomato tasted fresh and ripe. We both thought, however, that the grilled cheese was lacking. Imagine a large ciabatta roll (almost a bun) with three rectangles of cheese across it and sliced tomatoes. Basically, it was all bun and the cheese wasn’t really melted, although the sandwich was warm when it arrived. We both said out loud, “at least the bun was good”. But when you order a grilled cheese, the name of the sandwich emphasizes, well, cheese, not bun. Hell, I don’t think I’ve ever had a grilled cheese on a bun. More cheese, more melted, and smaller bread would help this sandwich become as awesome as we had hoped. Both sandwiches came with a pickle spear and a pile of chips.

I’ve read complaints about Jazzy Veggie in Ann Arbor that criticize it for having store-bought ingredients put together on a sandwich. Even though I don’t necessarily agree 100% with that opinion, I worry that Cafe Ollie might get the same complaints until they expand their menu and make better use of that huge kitchen in the back. The drink menu is too limited: coffee drinks or Faygo. We understand this is a new restaurant and they will be expanding their menu (worker-guy explained that), but wouldn’t you want to hit it out of the park from the get-go?

They have several baked goods (cookies and cupcakes, including vegan varieties of both), coffee by the pound for sale, and homemade side dishes. I bought a vegan chocolate chip cookie to go, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Regarding the decor, it’s way too dark and has a kind of dirty, grungy feel to it. I wish they had brightened it up and made it cleaner feeling!

In conclusion, the VLT was good, the prices are very reasonable, and the staff attentive and polite. I will give it another chance for morning coffee, then again when they expand their menu in a few weeks and grow into themselves a bit.

img_1832Not too bad of a review, in my opinion, given that they’ve just opened. Here’s hoping they continue to make progress, and launch successfully on Tuesday.

[note: They will be closed all day tomorrow, in preparation for Tuesday’s grand opening.]

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22 Comments

  1. anonymous
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    We got the vegetarian “pulled pork” BBQ sandwich (really tofu, of course) and it was great, as was the “Geek” salad. The vegetarian shepherd’s pie was good too, but not as great as the BBQ sandwich.

  2. Ale Roka
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    I’ve dined their a couple times. Here’s my very friendly feedback. Note: I’ve forgotten the particulars of the sandwich nomenclature, but:

    -the Turkey Reuben: very good. all the standards for the genre but up a notch on quality of bread and unusually rich, well roasted turkey.
    -the chicken salad: the chix salad filling part was great (very well flavored) but was a bit overwhelmed by the bun.
    -grilled cheese: (see above) great Riverside bread, but most of the merits were from the bread. The cheese was a bit lost in the mix.
    -coffee: top shelf.
    -staff: kind and attentive.

    Humble suggestions:
    -I’d love to see a few more (even very few) bland, basic options for kids (since the ice cream will lure folks with kids in) even if these were half-orders of things like their mac and cheese or a simple PBJ.
    -Some juice drinks (even from cartons, again, for the kids)
    -Soup (comfort food for cold months)

    That said, the staff seemed very committed. I love that they’re incorporating Riverside bread, and think Cafe Ollie is a great ad.

  3. Christine M
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    I hope they still have chicken fries, my kids love them. Glad they still have ice cream.

  4. Leon Spinks
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    If you ordered anything “vegan” would you expect cheese on it?

  5. Knox
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    That customer looks happy.

  6. Posted January 31, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Soy cheese?

  7. Frogger
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    As good as all of this sounds, I hope that music doesn’t turn out to be a distraction for the cafe. I think it’s good that they’re planning to have live music, and that they’re going to be selling local records, but I hope that doesn’t take their attention away from the food. I’ve seen some good places go down when they’ve tried to do too much.

  8. Leighton
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    It’s slightly cleaner than Luwak, which isn’t saying much, and its menu is slightly smaller than most places aspiring to be more than a coffee shop. But, considering it’s technically not “open” yet, there’s plenty of time for improvement. The possibilities are exciting for the place and the block.

  9. Jennifer
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    I am a vegan and there are plenty of vegan cheese alternatives. So, yes, I would expect to see vegan cheese if they offer an item using it.

  10. Ted
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Mark, what are the chances of an Ypsipanty kiosk?

  11. DRich
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    How many Monkey Power Trio records have they sold?

  12. Bob
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    Cafe’ Ollie’s macaroni and cheese is the best I ever had anywhere. The crunchy top is great.

  13. Leon Spinks
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 2:01 am | Permalink

    I guess maybe I am missing the point, Jennifer. It kind of reminds me of all those youth group things in the megachurches who try so desperately to show how it is really “cool” to be a Christian.
    I mean if vegans could eat cheese and meat, then even I would be one.

  14. Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    I never saw the point in eating fake versions of a cuisine vegans are supposed to be protesting against.

  15. Posted February 2, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    It’s like the Atkins fake candy that makes you fart all day, except the exact opposite, and with farts instead of guilt.

  16. notoneofthecoolkids
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    I have a feeling that eating all that soy will come back and bite most vegans. If they can Find non-GMO soy or non “Round-up Ready” Soy, good for them eat all the soy cheese you want. But I fee that any food that has to rot in order to be eaten just doesn’t appeal to me.
    Just google “Round -up ready soy” or “soy allergies”

  17. AndyC
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Terms like “meatless chicken” or ” fake meat” can be very off putting.
    Names like scrambled tofu, saitan salad sandwich, or tempeh lettuce tomotoe sandwich sounds much better. I’m not really sure who these names are catering to. My suggestion, put up one menu and mark which items can be made vegan via sustitutions.

  18. Leon Spinks
    Posted February 3, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t mean to hijack the topic. I was just curious and thinking cheese was made from the curds of mammalian type breast juice.
    But if there are alternatives that are vegetable things, don’t they have ancient hindu names or whatever? You’d think it would sound more stylish than just “fake cheese.”

  19. Busyish
    Posted February 3, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Hey, does this place have unswealmond milk on hand for making coffee drinks? So much better than soy milk for that purpose!

    Also, I don’t know where this place is located. Did it take over Luwak or something?

  20. Jennifer
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Wow, I was just commenting that there are fake cheeses available and apparently offered on the vegan sandwiches at Cafe Ollie. I was saying no more, no less.

    But now I will:
    I agree with what y’all are saying about the fake substitution stuff being unappealing. It’s processed and that’s what makes it gross, vegan or not.

    What I disagree with, though, is that just because someone practices a vegan lifestyle doesn’t mean they can’t appreciate the flavors from an omnivore diet. Why would you, if you used to like the salty, smoky taste of bacon, not want to continue experiencing those flavors, but without consuming the pig? Or if you like the creaminess that milk adds, why not substitute a non-dairy milk? I don’t get what your point is, Pete or Leon. Not sure why eating substitutions makes a person’s veganism a moot point.

    I make my choices for myself without preaching or condemning. I don’t appreciate being asked to defend the way I eat, nor would I quiz you on your diet and tell you what I think about what you consume. It’s not my business.

  21. Posted February 5, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    The fake cheese you make for your nachos is delicious, Jennifer… Maybe you could make some for the community and win over a few converts. Or, short of that, maybe you could just post your recipe. Is it up on your site?

  22. Leon Spinks
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    “Not sure why eating substitutions makes a person’s veganism a moot point.”

    Doesn’t make it moot; just fake.

    Ha-ha. Just kidding. I don’t know. I was just curious about it. Nothing I have ever eaten that was fake actually tasted like the original, that’s all. So if I were a vegan, I would not be too hep to that cardboardy fake bacon stuff when in fact, there are some really great tasting vegetables and fruits and nuts that are fatty and smokey and salty and all that. I just like to go for all the fucking gusto, and I don’t understand people who don’t.
    And they should really make up good sounding names for the stuff instead of just calling it fake milk, fake cheese, fake bacon, fake etc.

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