Former Potsdam resident opens Queensbury vegan restaurant
Monday, October 15, 2018 - 2:36 pm

POTSDAM -- A former Potsdam resident has opened an all-vegan eatery in Queensbury.

Birch Bark Eatery opened Oct. 1 at 989 US Route 9.

Owner Tania Sharlow is originally from Potsdam and now a Queensbury restaurant owner with 15 years of experience in the food industry as a former manager at Dunkin Donuts.

She had the idea to open up her own vegan eatery after four years of transitioning into a completely plant-based diet. Lacking a variety of satisfactory meat substitutes, she decided to make her own.

The restaurant's signature item is the Reuben, which is the sandwich that started Sharlow making her small-batch seitan, a vegan meat-free “meat” that is made with wheat gluten.

“I became vegetarian to improve my health and soon afterward began learning about the devastation that the factory farming industry is causing to the Earth,” Sharlow said in a prepared statement. “I've always been concerned about the effects we have on the environment and after learning about the pain and torture that meat production causes I knew I couldn't continue to put my hard earned money into it.”

After going vegan, “I was a little lost,” she continues. “How do you cook without eggs and butter? I began trying new things and became obsessed with making food that was just as good as its non-vegan version and it turns out that I am pretty good at that.”

Menu items include fried pickles with ranch, tempura broccoli with garlic aioli, krab cake with lemon balsamic aioli on a bed of greens, classic French onion soup, “Philly Chzz Stayq,” “Cran-Faux-Turkey,” “BBQ Jackfruit,” and other sandwiches, as well as a stuffed burger filled with chorizo garlic “chz” filling, and a build-your-own burger option with three choices of patty including the “Beyond Burger” and “Impossible Burger,” both “new foods which have been featured in the press lately for their ability to convert carnivores,” according to a news release.

“We have been warmly embraced by the like-minded community,” Sharlow said in the release. Vegans often have only one menu choice in restaurants, or get stuck ordering salad. “So many people are thrilled to have an entire menu of items they can choose from.”

She chose this location because it was “a blank slate and because being on a main road was an important factor to make it easy for travelers to find,” the release said, but faced challenges on the path to opening her doors.

“We were scammed by a contractor for nearly $5,000 and lost a lot of possible sales in trying to scrape together funds to recoup that loss,” she said in the release. “The plan was to open in May, but I had to go back to a kitchen that served meat and work 80 hours a week to pay for the restaurant to open.”

Sharlow created her kitchen from scratch, installing a hood and fire suppression system. The space also features tree-inspired seating, birch bark décor, and artwork by the owner's 16-year-old daughter, Azalea Gardner.

The restaurant is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/birchbarkeatery and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/birchbarkeatery. The release says a website is “coming soon” at www.birchbarkeatery.com.

The restaurant’s phone number and email address are (518) 741-0010, [email protected].