Monday, April 12, 2010

Ten Per Cent Reduction Offer on Vegan Pizzas on San Francisco's Monday Vegetarian Day

A San Francisco pizza restaurant is offering customers a ten per cent reduction on vegan pizzas on Mondays.

Amici's pizza chain, which has two restaurants in the city, is putting their offer on the table following the passing of a resolution by the city's Board of Supervisors last week that from now on every Monday is to be known as Vegetarian Day.

While the manager of one of the busiest restaurants in the city, The Cheesecake Factory, says that they have many vegetarian items on their menu and can easily accommodate customers should there be a rush for vegetarian food.

Of the resolution passed last week, Richard Allum, Director of Marketing for Amici's East Coast Pizzeria, said, 'I think San Francisco is the perfect city for something like that. People in San Francisco tend to be very progressive and forward-thinking.'

First reaction of Alex Ross, manager of the Cheesecake Factory - pictured  at back of the terrace overlooking Union Square - was, 'That's news to me. I wasn't aware of it, but this is great.'

However, he went on, 'We definitely have vegetarian items on the menu, eggplant sandwiches, pasta and many of our salads,' he said, listing just a few.

The Cheesecake Factory caters for many dietary restrictions and options, including seasonal religious festivals like Passover and Lent, he said, and showed an extensive menu with over 200 items spread over 21 pages. There were another 12 items on the 'specials.'

'So what's one more day, one day a week, 52 times a year. It wouldn't be too difficult to pull it off,' he said.

Amici's had been researching vegan cheeses. 'I'm not a vegetarian myself,' Richard Allum said, but had often found himself annoyed at the token offerings of vegetarian and vegan food on different restaurant menus. About 18 months ago they found a new product called Daiya.

'It's proven to be very popular,' he said, and so when the resolution came along, 'we thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase it - the Daiya.' Other vegan cheeses, he said, have either not melted or been oily, but this was of a perfect stretch and melt consistency, and bubbled on top of the pizza.

Not made of soy, but from the South American plant, cassava, Daiya seems to have set the vegan community alight with its cheese-like properties - judging from vegan reviews online. I sampled it from their restaurant opposite the Giants' ballpark and, presented with a good sprinkling of pepper and vegetables, couldn't tell the difference.

Last month Amici's entered their Asanté pizza into a competition at the annual Pizza Expo in Las Vegas. It was the first-ever vegan entry. 'It didn't win but it got some good recognition from that,' Richard said.

What he thought was important about the city's resolution was that it made clear that vegetarianism and vegan life-styles were equally valid.

The concept of choice was also what attracted Alex to the resolution. 'I think it's a very interesting idea. As a non-vegetarian, I think it would be difficult for me, but it's important for people to have choice.'

Hopefully, he said magnanimously, it will increase sales for restaurants that are vegetarian or vegan. But many restaurants like the Cheesecake Factory offer vegetarian options, he said, adding a plea to his regulars 'so please don't forget us!'

The Cheesecake Factory in San Francisco is the busiest in the chain on the continent of America, beaten only by Honolulu - 'we don't count them!' said Alex.

It is crowded throughout the day and evening, and doesn't take table reservations. It's location is a boon. Eight floors up on top of Macy's, it overlooks Union Square and has an outside terrace. And tourism in the city is booming.

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