Parlor City Vegan is challenging the stereotype that vegan food is limited to bland salads.
The new restaurant, located at 81 Clinton St., will open to the public on Oct. 23. It will be Binghamton’s first 100-percent vegan restaurant and will serve homemade vegan comfort food and seasonal dishes made from locally grown produce. The menu features unconventional vegan recipes such as truffle mac and cheese, chicken wings, fried chicken and more.
Parlor City Vegan was established in 2016 as a pop-up vegan cafe that catered events and made weekly appearances at the Broome County Farmers Market. After popular demand for their products surpassed the capacity of their small rental kitchen, founders Sara Liu and Lei Liu decided it was time to move their cafe to a permanent location.
“We started small, and the response to our vegan comfort food options has been overwhelming,” Sara Liu said in a statement. “We’re so thankful for our loyal customers, who have been asking us to open a restaurant for the past three years. We are excited to plant roots in Binghamton’s burgeoning food scene, and to make Binghamton a plant-forward food destination.”
The Lius were inspired to found Parlor City Vegan after Sara’s father suffered from a major heart attack. During his recovery, the married couple served him their vegan specialties. After converting a former meat lover to a vegan diet, they decided to share their vegan dishes with the community.
A large part of Parlor City Vegan’s ability to open a restaurant was support and donations from the community. The eatery’s Kickstarter page earned $11,803, exceeding its $7,000 goal thanks to 149 donors, who were invited to a ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand-opening celebration.
Binghamton resident Amelia LoDolce, 39, said she is thrilled that vegan food is on the rise.
“I think I’m most excited that plant-based food has become mainstream enough that even in a small city like Binghamton we can have an all-vegan restaurant,” she said.
And the eatery isn’t only for vegans. Michael Sharp, a lecturer of English at BU, said he thinks that meat eaters will also enjoy Parlor City Vegan’s dishes. He said he was inspired to donate because of his confidence in the owners.
“I think there’s way more interest even among carnivores in vegan food, and in just good and innovative food and new restaurants, so I think they’re going to do pretty well,” he said. “I’m not that quick to donate to a Kickstarter, but they really seem to have their business sense and the skills to do what they were going to do.”
LoDolce shared a similar sentiment.
“I’ve been a vegan for over 20 years and I think it’s just really important to have vegan options in the area, and they do an amazing job,” she said. “I think if anyone could pull it off in the Binghamton area, it’s Parlor City Vegan.”
Nicole Kinsley, a junior majoring in environmental studies, said she thinks Parlor City Vegan will be a popular destination for students.
“I feel like Binghamton has a strong environmental awareness in general, and I think that more and more people are catching on to what it is to be vegan and vegetarian, and what that does for the environment,” Kinsley said.
Sharp said he looks forward to see the restaurant scene build up the Triple Cities area beyond Downtown Binghamton.
“I’m just excited about the idea that Clinton Street could become something,” he said. “It feels like it’s headed in a direction where there are slowly going to be more restaurants and stores and things like that, so it’s nice to see the revitalization of Binghamton going from not just Downtown, but this direction.”