Happy Hour just launched at all Planta locations across North America to help you get through work this holiday season. Speaking of the holidays, new menus at Cinnaholic and Next Level Burger are making us want to ditch our holiday roasts for wreath cakes and milkshakes this Christmas.
Plus, there’s a truck serving mocktails and soft serve in Tucson, AZ that we can’t wait to try. Read on for more.
1Happy hour at Planta
Need a break from holiday meal prep? Upscale vegan chain Planta has the answer with its new happy hour offerings, available Monday through Friday from 3pm to 6pm across its 14 locations across the United States and Canada.
At all locations, customers can enjoy martinis (including espresso, dirty, and lychee) for $9, select wines for $8, and select beers for $6.
The Planta menu happy hour includes “Mez-Cal Me Maybe” ($9), Spicy Tuna Hand Roll ($5), Chick’n Fried Mushrooms ($7), Nashville Hot Tofu Bao ($8), and more.
The Planta Cocina menu offers “Herb Your Enthusiasm” ($9), Ahi Watermelon Tostada ($6), Potato Chorizo Quesadilla ($7), Pumpkin Seed Guacamole ($8), and more.
Lastly, the Planta Queen menu features “Sake To Me” ($9), Spicy Tuna Hand Roll ($5), Cold Peanut Noodles ($8), Korean Chick’n Bao ($8), and more.
2Neat Burger closes locations
It’s no secret that restaurants everywhere are struggling in this economy. Case in point? Neat Burger, a vegan fast-food chain backed by Lewis Hamilton and Leonardo DiCaprio, is closing half its locations in the United Kingdom due to financial challenges.
“The last four years have been a roller coaster for any hospitality business,” Neat Burger said in a statement sent to Restaurant Online.
“We’re facing macro pressures that we’re seeing reflected across the industry, and the strongest brands are having to adjust their sails to account for increasing energy costs, food price inflation, and compounding interest rates,” the company said.
Despite recent expansions in New York City and Milan, the chain faced a 145-percent increase in losses last year, leading to the closure of four of its nine London sites (namely in Oxford Circus, Canary Wharf, Westfield Stratford, and Liverpool Street) and the already-closed Dalston grab-and-go location.
Plans for new locations in Queensway, Waterloo, King’s Road, and the O2 Arena have been put on hold, as well.
The company acknowledged the closures and scrapped expansion plans due to a £7.85 million ($9.88 million) loss in the 2022 financial year, up from a £3.2 million ($4.03 million) loss in 2021. It cited changing market conditions and a shift towards hybrid work leading to decreased footfall in some of its larger restaurants.
Ben Slater and Emma Pharoh
“As with any dynamic growing business, we’re constantly changing and adapting to the market, and so as part of our ongoing strategy, we are announcing the consolidation of four of our London operations,” Neat Burger said. “This decision is driven after an analysis of our consumer data and the shift towards hybrid work, leading to a natural decrease in footfall at some of our larger restaurants.”
The company remains committed to its mission of providing sustainable, plant-based dining and is excited about future growth prospects despite the current challenges in the UK vegan market.
3Soft-serve mocktail truck
If you’re in Arizona and looking for a little booze-free fun, there’s a new truck in Tucson that’s serving up desserts and mocktails galore. Best friends Warren Sammons and Michael “Gonzo” Gonzales just launched Mockups Tucson, a unique food truck experience that combines vegan ice cream and inventive mocktails with a punk rock twist.
The inspiration for Mockups Tucson, local media outlet Arizona Daily Star reports, arose from Warren and Gonzo’s mutual love of food and desire to create an inclusive and fun space. Warren’s veganism and Gonzo’s sobriety played pivotal roles in shaping their menu, which is designed to cater to a wide range of tastes and preferences.
The truck offers a vegan vanilla soft-serve base, which can be enjoyed with a variety of toppings such as cookies and cream, peanut butter and jelly, and cinnamon toast crunch. The signature flavor is the American Nightmare, which layers the vanilla soft serve with apple pie filling and Biscoff cookie crumbs.
The beverage menu includes homemade cola, coffee soda, and creative mocktails such as the Reformed Brain Eater, a mix of grapefruit and lime juices with falernum, grenadine, and a cherry garnish.
The goal of Mockups is to provide a space where everyone can enjoy vegan treats and fun activities such as cornhole and Jenga.
4Christmas cinnamon buns
Holiday cinnamon buns are in full swing at Cinnaholic, an exclusively vegan bakery chain with a growing presence in 24 states and nearly 100 locations.
This year’s lineup includes the Santa’s Milk and Cookies Roll, a delightful concoction of its original vegan cinnamon roll topped with French vanilla frosting, vegan “Oreo”-style cookies, chocolate chip cookie pieces, and a sprinkle of powdered sugar, all adorned with red and white sprinkles for a festive touch.
Not to be outdone, the Gingerbread House Roll captures the holiday spirit with its gingerbread-flavored frosting, a topping of Cinnadoodle cookie pieces, and graham cookies, all beautifully decorated with multicolored sprinkles.
For chocolate lovers, the freshly baked Chocolate Peppermint Cookies is your go-to, featuring double chocolate chip cookies topped with crushed peppermint for that perfect holiday flavor.
Rounding off the seasonal menu is the Wreath Cake, a festive and customizable offering shaped like a wreath that serves eight to 10 people. Available through December 31, this shareable treat is made from Cinnaholic’s famous rolls and is available with more than 20 frosting choices and up to three toppings.
Cinnaholic also offers an extensive catering menu for holiday parties of all sizes and convenient delivery through third-party vendors, adding comfort and joy to the bustling holiday season.
If you’ve got a hankering for a creamy milkshake, vegan fast-food chain Next Level Burger (NLB) has a whole festive menu to hit the spot. Throughout December, NLB is celebrating the holidays at its 10 locations across the US with a trio of decadent, hand-spun milkshakes.
Stephanie Kelly Photography
First on the menu is the Organic Candy Cane Shake, a blend of housemade organic coconut or soy soft-serve ice cream mixed with organic candy cane chunks and topped with whipped cream and peppermint candy.
Next is the Frosted Sugar Cookie Shake, which combines the same choice of soft-serve ice cream with house-baked sugar cookies and cream cheese frosting. This shake is extravagantly topped with whipped cream, cookie crumbs, and festive Softie holiday sprinkles.
Lastly, the Frozen Hot Cocoa Shake offers a wintry twist, featuring fair-trade cocoa mixed into the soft-serve ice cream, and finished with a topping of whipped cream, peppermint, and marshmallows.
Can we just have a milkshake Christmas and ditch all the cooking this year?