March 28, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
A new restaurant offering all-vegan fare is scheduled to open on 31st Street in Astoria.
Urban Vegan Roots will open at the beginning of May at The World Artisan Market, a repurposed warehouse building located at 34-39 31st St. Urban Vegan Roots will be the latest establishment to open in the building following on from Sotta La Luna, Sala and Elevenses.
David Tianga, 46, who grew up in Jackson Heights, is opening the 2,000 square foot eatery with his wife, Taraoles, 37, who was raised in the Bronx. The couple now live in Manhattan.
The new restaurant, which will serve all vegan dishes, will be a sister restaurant to the pair’s only other eatery called Urban Vegan Kitchen, which opened seven years ago in the West Village section of Manhattan.
The restaurant, David said, will include its signature vegan-style dishes from the Manhattan establishment, including chick-un and waffles, Korean BBQ wings, mac and cheese and a range of burgers.
Urban Vegan Roots will also serve a variety of pizzas, which are not available at their city establishment.
David said he wanted to open a restaurant in Queens for quite some time since he is from the borough.
“I miss Queens and love the borough, so it feels like I’m going back home,” David said.
They had expected to open the establishment in February but — like many other new businesses – the process has been held up with bureaucratic red tape. The delays, he said, are part and parcel of the industry which the couple is taking in their stride.
“What I’ve learned in the restaurant business is you’ve got to be patient,” David said. “You don’t do it to become a millionaire, you do it because you love it and to have fun so that’s what we concentrate on.”
“There are very few things that can offer you as much fun as opening a restaurant – it’s tough but once it’s up and running it’s a cool thing.”
Urban Vegan Roots will have a spacious and minimalist layout with seating for around 30 people, David said. He also plans to install outdoor seating in the near future.
“We don’t want to clutter it with things, it will have the feel of an old-school arts space that represents New York City culture,” he said, adding the color scheme will be black and white with art deco designs.
There will also be a stage that will host music like jazz and reggae, he said.
“We want to offer a space where people can eat and feel the spirit of the food,” he said. “Veganism is a spiritual thing, it’s a way of life.”
David said he hopes that the restaurant will attract vegan and non-vegan customers alike.
“A lot of non-vegans are reluctant [to eat vegan food] at the start, but we have many non-vegans who eat at our city location. We always say, ‘just try it,’” he said.
The key to vegan food, David said, is in the seasoning and many dishes often mimic the taste of the meat equivalent.
For instance, the chick-un and waffles are made using southern fried seitan as its chicken base with sauteed garlic kale and maple mustard aioli added for flavor.
The restaurant will also offer a range of other items including sandwiches, coconut shrimp, garlic broccoli, soups, waffles, tacos and salad bowls. Alcoholic beverages such as cocktails, local beers, wine, whiskeys, gins and tequila will also be on the menu.
He said the menu has something for everyone.
“Queens is the world’s borough so we want it to be a place for everybody, where everyone is welcome,” David said.
Opening hours have yet to be finalized but David expects the restaurant to be open from 10 a.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays, and from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Sundays.