Vidl, plant-based restaurant in downtown Knoxville plans food in Old Town

Vidl, plant-based restaurant in downtown Knoxville plans food in Old Town

Vegetarian and vegetable foods are not the same.

An Oreo is technically vegetarian, Jenna Baker told Knox News, but that’s not the kind of food she plans to bring to her new fast-paced, plant-based diner Vidl, scheduled to open in the spring of 2022 in Old Town.

The business will be located in the former home of Blühen Botanicals at 111 E. Jackson Ave. and will offer take-out and take-out meals that promote good health.

Jenna Baker is photographed in the space where Vidl, Baker's fast-paced, plant-based diner, will open in the former Blühen Botanicals space at 111 E. Jackson Ave in Knoxville's Old Town.

The restaurant will also offer wellness education, and its name is an interpretive spelling of “food,” an archaic word for “food.”

Baker plans for customers of his established boxed food service to pick up orders from the new space by the end of January.

Take-home meals, packaged as Be Well Boxes, come with ingredients for salads, plant-based entrees, soups, and desserts that can make 10-20 meals.

Baker has been selling the boxes since 2019 in a small space in The Glowing Body Yoga & Healing Arts building, north of downtown on Irwin Street.

“In March (2020), everyone else was trying to do what I had been doing on my own terms since late 2019,” he said. “He had spent four months figuring out how to package food and sell it. So he was in a position to continue doing business, which had its own stressors.”

Back to the roots in a new space

The model for her Cook to be Well business, which started in 2018 with take out meals, became so popular that she decided to hire additional help and extend the days when boxes were available for pickup.

Baker started selling himself, he said, and had to cut out takeout meals.

The Old Town property, of which Vidl will utilize 4,000 square feet, will allow take-out meals to return, along with Be Well Boxes and a new sitting experience.

Vidl, a fast-paced, plant-based casual eatery, will open in the former Blühen Botanicals space at 111 E. Jackson Ave in Old Town Knoxville.

Baker has hired his partner Laura Lyke, who owns the building and became interested in the Vidl concept.

The space includes a glazed room for growing vegetables, which customers can see while dining. The hydroponic systems that Blühen used to grow hemp will be replaced by plant beds.

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Behind the glass room is an open space for yoga classes, cooking classes and other kinds of educational opportunities, which Baker plans to offer with the help of like-minded community groups when the restaurant is closed for the night.

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