Restaurant owner hopes to revitalize her space to match the freshness of her cuisine

(Samantha Incorvaia/DD)
After Vegan House’s soft opening in January, owner Laura Brooks realized she wasn’t happy with the feel. Brooks has undertaken remodeling and will reopen in the coming weeks. (Samantha Incorvaia/DD)

After being open for only a short time, one restaurant in downtown Phoenix will be getting a makeover.

Lara Brooks, owner of Tom Yum Thai in Surprise, is reopening her latest venture, Vegan House, in the coming weeks on Adams Street and Central Avenue.

After a soft opening in January, Brooks realized she wasn’t content with the look and feel of the new location, situated next to Yasda Bento, a Japanese-Korean restaurant.

The interior decor and cleanliness of the space were issues, as well as the high-energy orange the previous owner painted on the walls.

“I want people to come here and be very impressed,” Brooks said. “I have to make sure the restaurant is clean enough, so whatever I think doesn’t feel like home has to be changed.”

Brooks said the atmosphere is important because it needs to feel fresh. To her, the vegan lifestyle exudes a refreshing feeling, and she hopes to make Vegan House exude the same.

“I want people not to just eat the food,” she said. “I want them to come and have less stress, because people working want to relax. When they eat good food, they feel better.”

Brooks said that watching cooking shows in Thailand developed her love for making food. She has lived in America for 10 years and started her first business, a sandwich shop in San Diego, about seven years ago.

In Thailand, locals hold the annual Thailand Vegetarian Festival, an event where Thai people of Chinese ancestry eat vegan food for 10 days. Brooks hopes that celebration could be adapted outside of the culture, even if some people aren’t vegan.

“You don’t have to be vegan to eat vegan food,” she said. “I just want them to love themselves, healthy first and think about maybe once or twice a week to go meatless.”

Kat Pfligler, who is vegan, said she is thankful that more restaurants are taking her eating habits to heart and specializing in dining directed at either a vegan or vegetarian person’s diet.

“Society is slowly catching on to the fact that cutting out meat now and again, or even completely, can do anyone’s health plenty good,” Pfligler said.

She said that living in Washington for a year opened her eyes to the refreshing feeling of not having a difficult time looking for somewhere to go eat.

Political science student Dylan Marks said that even though he is not vegan, he sees merit in the motive behind the way of eating.

“From an environmentalist standpoint, I think that (being vegan) might be great,” he said. “But I just hope you’re not doing it because it’s a fad right now. I hope it’s because you have good intentions in mind.”

Contact the reporter at jaling1@asu.edu