Wicked Willow in Stevens Point is one of the few places in Wisconsin that serves exclusively vegan cuisine
CJ DeWitt opened the Wicked Willow in August, one of the few exclusively vegan restaurants in the state.
A growing number of restaurants are featuring vegetarian options, some even becoming renowned for those dishes. But a place that’s exclusively vegan? That’s been a non-starter around these parts. Until now.
Wicked Willow opened Aug. 15 at 1137 Main St. in Stevens Point, and according to owner CJ DeWitt is one of only a handful of exclusively vegan restaurants in the state, joining the likes of Ladonia Café in Madison and The Cheeze Factory in the Wisconsin Dells.
For those who don’t know, vegetarians don’t consume meat; vegans take it further by avoiding any animal-based products, including eggs and dairy.
Opening the restaurant combines two of DeWitt’s passions: the restaurant industry, in which DeWitt has been working her entire life (her mother owns the Cozy Kitchen in Stevens Point); and the vegan lifestyle, which DeWitt adopted roughly three years ago.
DeWitt’s vegan diet came from both her love of animals—she has three dogs and a cat—and her desire for a healthier lifestyle. “I know I’ve felt better,” DeWitt says. “I have struggled with weight management, and this has helped me.”
The all-vegan mac and cheese.
What’s on the menu? Most of the food will look pretty familiar, except that it’s all made without animal-based products. The mac and cheese, which comes with options for veggie additions, seems like just a fancy version of the familiar dish, but is made with a cream derived from cashews. Other dishes, such as the tacos and BBQ sandwich, use of meat substitutes, which, DeWitt says, have really improved to become nearly indistinguishable from their meat counterparts.
The menu comes with some interesting surprises too. One of the specials is a smoothie bowl topped with seeds and homemade granola. Even a kombucha beer is offered.
For vegans, it’s been a homecoming and DeWitt has started seeing some of the same faces day in and day out. She’s also seeing visitors from outside the area stopping in to check out what’s still a rarity in central Wisconsin.
With Wicked Willow, DeWitt hopes to challenge the perception that vegan cuisine isn’t tasty. “We do that one person at a time,” DeWitt says. “We’ll show them the ropes, and I hope they judge it on their own scale… I think we can stand up to other restaurants.”