Mother and Daughter Owners of NH’s Only Two Vegan Eateries

The past and future of vegan dining in New Hampshire can be traced to one family who works to bring plant-based food to the state.

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New Hampshire’s only all-vegan restaurants—one owned by a mother, the other, 25 miles away, owned by her daughter—were recently featured by New Hampshire Public Radio, showcasing their differing business strategies and how far vegan dining has come. Norma Koski opened Susty’s Café more than 17 years ago, when she was not satisfied with the amount of local vegan options and wanting to offer New Hampshirites some variety. Her menu—consisting of simple organic classics such as Thai Summer Rolls; house salads topped with shredded beets, seeds, and avocado; and Shepherds Pie—has long sustained area vegetarians. Koski had long held out against different forms of technology, only recently ceding to credit cards and whose scant Facebook page is the only trace of the restaurant’s presence online. A July 4 Facebook post reads simply, “Yes, we are open today and no, we don’t have a website.” Despite its old-fashioned ways, the business is run with a lot of heart, with Koski saying she accepted IOUs for the first 12 years of business. “Because it’s just such a trusting thing,” she said. “People don’t steal vegan food, and if they do, I want them to have it, seriously.” In contrast, Koski’s daughter Willow Mauck is working in a very different way to make a name for her recently opened vegan restaurant, Willow’s Plant Based Eatery. Mauck’s entrées tout names such as “Moon Beam” (a tofu ricotta lasagna with nutritional yeast cheesy sauce), her team is more active and engaging on social media and have a full website in the works. Unlike her mother, who has long declined offers to become a chain or sell grab-and-go options at local markets, Mauck is hoping to expand the Willows brand, which currently serves a city 10 times more populous than that of her mother’s restaurant, banking on a more bustling, metropolitan clientele.

Photo courtesy of Cameron Johnson/ConcordMonitor

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