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Business Intel: Vegan fast-food restaurant opens in Roanoke

Business Intel: Vegan fast-food restaurant opens in Roanoke

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A new vegan fast-food restaurant has opened off Melrose Avenue in Roanoke.

Screaming Vegan offers comfort foods like hot dogs, cheeseburgers and patty melts, but all menu items are 100% plant-based, said chef Thomas Leonard.

“The idea is that we wanted to do a plant-based menu that kind of fools, for lack of a better term, people who are not vegan,” he said.

For those more accustomed to the vegan diet, Leonard said, the menu also features dishes like a quinoa bowl, jackfruit sliders and falafel.

Leonard, who has been on a completely plant-based diet for about five years, said many vegans find it difficult to go out to eat at a restaurant, where they have to ask lots of questions about the menu or make modifications to their orders.

“I want to create a space where vegans can come in and you don’t have to question anything,” he said.

But Leonard said he enjoys serving skeptical customers, too, mentioning one man who couldn’t believe the restaurant’s take on a crab cake sandwich was vegan.

“We’re wanting to appeal to everyone, not just people who subscribe to a vegan diet,” Leonard said. “We’re making believers out of people every day.”

Leonard said he’s particularly proud of Screaming Vegan’s sauces and condiments, mentioning a Louisiana remoulade sauce for the crab cake and a “cheese” sauce made from vegetables.

While Leonard said some vegan restaurants can be pricey, combo meals at Screaming Vegan are mostly under $15 and individual items go for even less.

Screaming Vegan is focused on takeout. The space is small, so there’s no indoor seating, but Leonard said he’d like to add some outdoor seating once the weather warms.

Screaming Vegan is at 2715 Melrose Ave. N.W. and is open 1 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

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Casey Fabris covers business for The Roanoke Times, where she has been a reporter since 2015. Previously, Casey covered Franklin County. She can be reached at (540) 981-3234 or casey.fabris@roanoke.com.

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