Sophie Bolich

Vegan Cafe Opening on Marquette Campus

Grand opening for Gray Jett Cafe set for Aug. 25, just days before fall semester begins.

By - Aug 22nd, 2023 10:13 am
Site of Gray Jett Cafe, 1617 W. Wells St. Photo taken Aug. 21, 2023 by Sophie Bolich.

Site of Gray Jett Cafe, 1617 W. Wells St. Photo taken Aug. 21, 2023 by Sophie Bolich.

Despite a summer exodus of campus eateries, Marquette University students can look forward to a full menu at Gray Jett Cafe as they return for the fall semester.

The new restaurant softly opened Aug. 12 at the former site of The Broken Yolk, 1617 W. Wells St. A grand opening is set for Friday, Aug. 25 — classes begin the following Monday.

Fiancés Shana Gray and Andren Jett are the forces behind the upcoming cafe, which will serve a menu of vegan fare, along with non-vegan versions of each dish.

“We’re very inclusive,” said Gray, who noted that the cafe aims to “push veganism” while providing nourishing foods and proving that plant-based eating “doesn’t have to be boring.”

Many of Gray Jett’s menu items were created in the couple’s own kitchen during the pandemic. Early in their relationship, Gray and Jett weren’t able to dine out together due to COVID-19 restrictions. “So as we both got to know each other, instead of going to a restaurant, we decided to go into our kitchens as date nights,” Gray said. “We started creating amazing items that you now see on our menu.”

That includes a wide variety of Italian, Tex-Mex and traditional American dishes such as classic barbeque sliders. Rather than relying on store-bought meat replacements for the sandwich, Gray Jett’s version utilizes jackfruit, which takes on the texture of pulled pork when marinated and cooked.

A beef version of the sandwich is also available, though “a lot of people always go to the vegan one because they swear they can’t tell the difference,” according to Gray.

The restaurant’s vegan jerk tacos also include pulled jackfruit. In this case, it’s flavored with the sweet and smoky Jamaican seasoning blend.

Other menu items include garlicky party wings and a buffalo chicken sandwich.

In creating the menu, the couple pulled from a wide variety of global cuisines. “The American diet consists of every background,” Gray said. “Like, you might have Italian, you’ve got, the Tex-Mex style and you have traditional American food. So we’ve mastered each and every one of those items and veganized them.”

The vegan and vegetarian-friendly cafe got its start back in November 2021, when Gray and Jett began offering plates for delivery from a commercial kitchen space on the North Side.

Since then, the business’s rapid growth has been “a rollercoaster,” Gray said. “There was some lows, of course, but the ride was thrilling. And here we are.”

“It’s gonna be fun and it’s gonna be good food,” she added. “We’re making sure we’re catering to the students, so they can have a comfortable spot over there.”

Following Friday’s grand opening, Gray Jett Cafe will be open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

On Friday and Saturday, the cafe will open at 7 a.m. and close at 3 p.m., then reopen from 5 p.m. until the early hours of the morning. The late-night hours will be adjusted according to activity.

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Categories: Food & Drink

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