Kelly Johnston, proprietor, in her location for the new Plant Food Supper Club. Photo by Holly Parsons

“I’ve committed my life to creating a delicious vegan culinary experience,” states Kelly Johnston-Gibson, founder of Plant Food Supper Club. “Before moving to Idyllwild, I was orchestrating organic, vegan, gourmet, multi-course, pop-up, ticketed dinners in LA and Orange County,” said Johnston-Gibson.

Having no intention of relocating anywhere that did not host a natural-foods offering, Johnston-Gibson contacted Michael Winkler, then owner of Sky Island Organics, and let him know she was a big supporter. Soon after, she began working in Meadow Greens deli, quickly moved into management and ultimately took over the space when Sky Island closed; rebranding Plant Food Supper Club as an innovative, organic, vegan destination in Idyllwild. They grew exponentially and outgrew the space.

Dave Butterfield offered her the lease of the former Uncle B’s on Ridgeview Drive, a building she had long envisioned as home for her next incarnation, and the rest will soon be history.

Johnston-Gibson hails from a food and restaurant background and is a self-trained vegan chef. “I entered the food business early in life, studying graphic and product design. I worked in the home furnishing industry as a creative director.

“Because everyone around me was getting sick, I returned to creating healthy food,” she shared. “Most of the dining-out options in this country reflect the use of harmful ingredients. After witnessing failing health with friends and family, I became seriously committed. I want to help humans live a more vibrant life. My ethos is do no harm and avoid contributing to the cruelty industry as a whole,” said Johnston-Gibson.

Inspired by films like “Cowspiracy” and “Earthlings,” she came to understand how animal cruelty impacts the environment and health. “What the Health,” a follow-up film by Kip Anderson, reinforced her purpose. “I get it now; the broad-spectrum effect of abandoning our ethics is huge. I believe in the concept of Ahimsa, an eastern philosophy which equates to ‘do no harm’ while giving people a unique dining experience,” said Johnston-Gibson.

As a vegetarian for 12 years, she connected the dots — people are getting sick because we’re not physically designed to consume animal products, dairy, designer oils and chemically enhanced, GMO foods, she believes.

“My vision for a new location is fulfilled. We now have a full commercial kitchen and a beautiful outdoor deck for live music, and offer free WIFI. We’re expanding our grab-and-go selection to include artisanal food for people on the move.

“We open for breakfast and lunch in June and extend our hours to include dinner once beer and wine licenses are in place. At that point, we’ll provide seamless service all day, expanding our catering and events-based services over time.

“The bread-and-butter precept of our brand is a percentage of our profits go to a nonprofit,” added Johnston-Gibson with a smile.

Lou Felix is kitchen manager, sous chef partner in the kitchen. There are seven kitchen staff, and nine to 10 wait staff in the front of the house managed by Caitlin Sickels and Lindsay English. This relocation basically triples the staff.

“In honor of Memorial Day, we are offering a teaser, an exciting, yet limited, menu for the weekend,” she said.

Their official breakfast lunch menu will begin in June and a formal grand opening will be announced this summer. Themed Sunday brunches will begin in June, featuring eclectic music and accompanying music. Husband Ken Gibson is booking music and invites interested musicians to contact him at ken@plantfoodsupperclub.com.

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