Sophia Marchese and Reid Trapani started their vegan catering company, Happy Seed, in 2018 with a goal of bringing vegan food to all. After discovering the niche nature of vegan catering, they shifted their focus to weekly pop-ups, primarily at A Mano and Buena Vida in Old Fourth Ward. After garnering quite a following, the duo have signed a lease for their first brick-and-mortar, a full-service vegan restaurant called La Semilla, slated to open in March 2022. (Until then, Happy Seed pop-ups will continue a couple of times a month on Mondays at A Mano.)
Located in Modera Reynoldstown alongside health-focused spots Envegan and Clean Juice, La Semilla—or “the seed” in Spanish—will serve the Latin-inspired, vegan favorites that Happy Seed fans have come to love, along with craft cocktails and other seasonal or shareable items. As with all Happy Seed offerings, La Semilla’s menu will be comprised of solely house-made products, from dairy substitutes to meat substitutes.
“We want to make sure we serve food that we know what’s in it,” Marchese says.
We spoke to her to learn more.
Since Happy Seed already has a following, what went into the decision to open the new restaurant under a different name?
Our ultimate goal is to have Happy Seed as a parent company and open concepts under that. La Semilla is a concept by Happy Seed. Our intention is to plant a seed in Atlanta’s restaurant industry and show people that you can have an extraordinary dining experience that’s all vegan.
We never want to push anyone into thinking you have to eat this way. We want the food to stand for itself.
How will the food be different from that at the pop-ups?
It will have a seasonal vibe overall. We’ll have staple items like the crunchy seitan beef wrap, empanadas, tamales, Cuban sandwiches, and Cubarito (a burrito with Cuban flavors). We have additional items still in development, like a masa section of the menu with huaraches.
The menu will be broken into sections such as sharables, masa, handhelds, and desserts like churros. Our choco taco might be a special because it’s pretty labor intensive.
We’ll serve dinner-only for the first few months, then brunch on weekends. We’ll have traditional Latin-inspired breakfast items but without eggs or dairy.
Tell me about your bar program.
We’ll have seven or eight staple cocktails focusing on mezcal tequila. Our wines will be from Latin countries. It’ll be a curated list with natural and biodynamic wines. The beer will highlight local brands. It’ll all be canned.
What’s La Semilla going to look and feel like?
Open and airy with a lot of plants. It’ll fit 75 seats, including on the covered patio. It’ll be pretty casual.
What do you think about being so close to another vegan concept?
Envegan is counter service. Ours is a chef-driven concept with a full beverage program. I’m excited to be able to pop over there and grab lunch.