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New Vegan, Gluten-free Cafe Open in Dracut

December 18, 2018
A nook area at Plantz Cafe, a new vegan cafe in Dracut. See video at lowellsun.com. SUN/Julia Malakie Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

DRACUT -- Bright green walls and earthy tones greet those who walk into Plantz Cafe. There are comfy couches and wooden coffee tables for those who want to lounge while savoring their food. Behind a glass display case near the front of the business are rows of lemon coconut bites and raw brownies. The cafe’s menu features superfood smoothies with names like “Sun Worshipper” and “Cacao-a-holic,” and the owners’ take on soul food dishes.

Plantz Cafe, which opened about a month ago at 1734 Lakeview Ave., nestled in a shopping center, is 100 percent vegan, gluten-free, and free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), according to majority owner Mystie Ziminsky who co-owns the business with her friend, Brett MacLean.

Seated at a high-top table in their business on a recent Tuesday, Ziminsky and MacLean expressed excitement over opening the cafe.

“There are many parts of the world that are very much aware of the power that plants contain, and I feel like that’s an aspect that’s just been missing from this area for longer than I can even imagine,” said Ziminsky, 36. “So we sort of feel like it’s our responsibility to help this area become more aware and educated and conscious of the healing power of plants in general.”

MacLean, 28, of Merrimack, N.H., said he hopes customers feel healthier and happier after trying out what Plantz Cafe offers.

“We love the people that come in -- their stories. They’re not just customers,” he said. “We want to know what they do... we want to just help everybody.”

Ziminsky’s life transformed three years ago when she decided to go vegan. The Westford resident said she immersed herself in health and wellness, becoming certified as a yoga instructor and as a Reiki master, and later earning her certification as a health coach. All the while, Ziminsky was continuing to work in a corporate job. She said it became very apparent that she needed to leave that industry and return to health and wellness. She and MacLean later teamed up and brought the vision of a plant-based cafe to life.

Lauren D’Agostino, Plantz Cafe’s Chef de Cuisine who oversees the preparation and creation of the cafe’s food, described it as “plant-based comfort food.”

“Things that are ‘normal’ for people but that are more colorful, healthier,” D’Agostino said. “We offer several items that people wouldn’t think could be vegan or could be good as gluten-free items, so a lot of our food is really a great bridge for people who maybe want to dip a toe into veganism.”

Checka Antifonario, a Dracut resident and first-time customer, said she was thrilled to see a business like this in the area. In her hands were an almond milk latte she ordered and “The Thoughtful Italian,” a toast dish with cashew mozzarella, tomato and pesto.

“I’ve been a vegetarian for a long time, mostly vegan actually, so I was real excited that we have this in town,” Antifonario said. “I think it’s awesome. I think Dracut needs things like this and I think it serves a great purpose for our community.”

Ziminsky said this is the first of many locations and shared plans on offering cooking classes and plant-based awareness programs.

“We know what we have is important and it’s missing and it’s necessary for people to improve on their health and their wellness and their relationships with their bodies and with everybody else -- and the planet,” Ziminsky said. “We want to be able to spread that in the most efficient, best, healthiest way possible.”

Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.

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