This couple reimagined a Texas town's beloved restaurant as plant-based. So far, it's working.
- Marcy and Carlos Madrid own Brew St., the first plant-based restaurant in Midland, Texas.
- The Madrids took over during Brew St.'s pandemic closure, trading its old menu for a plant-based one.
- The move was risky but worth it for the Madrids, who get to share plant-based foods with people who might not have tried them otherwise.
Shortly after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2015, restaurant owner Marcy Madrid was introduced to new research and a treatment plan by her Midland, Texas-based doctors that seemed like a radical idea: Eat a plant-based diet. New research on plant-based eating was coming out of leading medical conferences, and her doctors at Midland Memorial Hospital were eager to tell staff and patients.
Since Madrid also worked at the healthcare facility, she digested the information and shared it with her husband, Carlos Madrid. At first, they wrote it off. But Marcy Madrid's condition worsened, and she became desperate for alleviation. Carlos Madrid reminded her of that bizarre research she told him about a while back, about plant-based eating. They decided she'd go all-in on a plant-based diet, and soon after, Carlos Madrid followed suit for support.
Marcy Madrid started to improve drastically within months, and to this day is symptom-free and healthy. She and her doctors credit the turnaround to a plant-based diet.
It was the life-changing impact plant-based eating had on her own health - as well as those around her - that led the Madrids to open Brew St., the first-ever plant-based restaurant in Midland, Texas, five years later.
But Brew St. is a story of a
When the opportunity to take over Brew St. during its pandemic closure in summer 2020 came about, the Madrids were interested. As owners of a few businesses in Texas already, they thought purchasing Brew St. might be a good venture.
They moved forward with the deal and decided along with the former ownership that Brew St. would reopen as the same restaurant the community was expecting - and that included the same type of traditional menu offerings. They wanted to keep the familiarity of the neighborhood cafe and eatery that served as a gathering place for church meetups, student study groups, live music, and more.
The Madrids began hiring back Brew St.'s staff, including the pastry chef, and bringing on a new food chef. But as the pandemic saw improvement, restrictions eased, and they neared the reopening, something didn't sit right.
Friends and family were excited about their new endeavor, but questioned the Madrids having a restaurant that didn't align with their own values and practices, leaving them asking: "How can you sell something you are not yourselves?"
That's how Brew St. went plant-based, and it was a major risk for the couple.
Everything had to be overhauled, including the pastries, which had previously been a big draw for customers. Their pastry chef spent late nights in the kitchen and eventually decided dairy butter, eggs, and milk weren't needed. The first time she finished reinventing the cinnamon roll, a community favorite, she called the couple right away to let them know she thought it was actually even better than before.
The food chef was also up to the challenge, and with the help of the Madrids' shared dining experiences at vegan
Since this would be the first plant-based restaurant in Midland, and the concept of vegan food was still very new to people, they wanted to have some items that felt familiar - concepts made from scratch and big vegan names like Beyond Meat - while also showing off the amazing things you can do with plants. They also, for now, have a few traditional meat and cheese add-ons available to help draw people in who might normally not give a vegan restaurant a chance.
Much of the inspiration for Brew St.'s menu was drawn from vegan restaurants in California, and specifically eateries in Oakland, San Francisco, Anaheim, San Diego, and Venice. Brew St.'s homemade seitan sandwich, for example, was inspired by the Madrids' favorite eatery in downtown Oakland, known for its vegan subs and sandwiches made with homemade seitan.
The Madrids said feedback from the community has been overwhelmingly positive, with customers who were unsure of vegan food coming in and saying: "I can't believe this is not meat." The Madrids also said popular restaurant chains in the area have come into scope out what they're doing.
The Madrids have also been working on an initiative in Midland to share the benefits of plant-based eating. They, along with a few other local physicians and community leaders, are the cofounders of a nonprofit called Health City, aimed at educating people about plant-based eating for health.
The Madrids reflect and often think about how different life would be if Midland doctors hadn't told them about plant-based eating. Carlos and Marcy Madrid just want people to know the options, and know they have a choice - and they hope Brew St. can play a small piece in that.
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