We had the good fortune of connecting with Sophia Marchese and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sophia, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Simply put, Happy Seed began as a platform to encourage people to eat more plants. The idea was to speak to people through delicious food that just happens to be made with plants only. We’re so proud and grateful that veganism is moving into the mainstream, but it can still be a huge lifestyle change for those exploring a vegan diet. We wanted to meet people where they are by creating chef-driven dishes that celebrate plant ingredients while being flavor-forward and just as good (if not better) than their animal-based counterparts.
What should our readers know about your business?
Happy Seed is a plant-based pop-up restaurant serving Latin American eats. We started our business as a catering company to provide nourishing, sustainable and plant-forward alternatives to dishes traditionally made with animal products. We eventually realized we wanted to find a way to reach more people and so we moved into the world of pop-ups. Atlanta has such a kickass pop-up scene!
Our intention is to feature the creativity and innovation of plant-based cuisine while working to make a lasting impact on Atlanta’s restaurant industry and beyond. We pride ourselves on making everything from scratch using innovation and plants only, from our meat alternatives to our vegan cheeses. We are proud to offer these healthier dining options while showing those who dine with us the diversity and nutrient density of plant-based ingredients. We are also proud to be a planet positive company, meaning we believe in a more sustainable future in which individuals thrive and contribute back to the planet starting by leaving animals off the plate. We use only recyclable + compostable packaging, believe in supporting local farms, and always opt for high-quality ingredients and organic when possible.
We got to where we are by staying true to our beliefs and never losing sight of the goal: to feed as many people as possible vegan food! Entrepreneurship is undoubtedly challenging, but incredibly rewarding. Creating dishes and providing quality customer service is something we love, so we never feel like it’s “work” — it’s fun! We overcome our challenges by using our resources, networking and believing in ourselves first and foremost. We’ve found that if you truly believe in your mission, there’s nothing that can stop you from achieving your goals. Obstacles may seem like roadblocks, but they are merely tests to see how badly you want it. We’re always looking for the rainbows!
We want our brand to be associated with the movement that shifts our societal norms toward a more sustainable future starting with what we eat, and we are grateful to be facilitating that transition for many.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I have so much love for this city. Atlanta truly has so much to offer, with so much contrast… A deep-rooted Southern city overflowing with trees and nature—parks everywhere, and hikes, rivers and lakes just a short drive away—but also so many opportunities for upbeat city living surrounded by culture and community. Museums, music, the BeltLine, a vibrant dining scene, great bars, an abundance of art, areas rich with history and our city’s legacies, and so many hidden gems… The list goes on. And each little nook of Atlanta has its own feel and character. If I have friends in town, I like to make sure they get the full taste of what Atlanta has to offer. And of course we would kick off the week with dinner at Happy Seed on Monday! Some of my favorite spots & things to do: The Painted Duck for eatertainment, High Museum of Art, mural tours, Grass VBQ for unparalleled vegan BBQ, Redbird, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Freedom Park Farmers Market, oat milk lattes and doughnuts at Revolution, walks through Oakland Cemetery, food halls (Sweet Auburn Curb Market, Ponce City, Krog Street), Arabia Mountain, Chattahoochee River, Lake Lanier, The Tabernacle, Terminal West and Aisle 5 (when live music returns!), the Atlanta Food Truck Park, rooftop drinks at Hotel Clermont, picnicking in Piedmont park…. Like I said, the list goes on!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
As they say, it takes a village! We are blessed with a loyal community that gives Happy Seed its relentless support and a network of mentors that have helped guide us to where we are today. We currently operate as a pop-up restaurant, so we have leaders within Atlanta’s restaurant industry to thank for so much of our success and growth. We are fortunate to be hosted by local restaurateurs and chefs in all capacities, from offering up their kitchens for prep to opening up their dining rooms for our dinner services. Truly encapsulating the meaning of hospitality, these folks have welcomed us with open arms and given us space to plant a seed and watch it grow, even throughout the volatility of 2020. And we are so grateful for this trust and guidance within the industry as we prepare to open a space of our own one day soon. We especially owe a huge shoutout to George Demeglio at a mano in Old Fourth Ward. He was the first person to offer up his space to Happy Seed and trust us with a residential weekly service, even during the restaurant industry’s most trying times. Thank you George!
And I can’t let the opportunity pass by to give recognition to Happy Seed’s abuela, the woman who has inspired many of our dishes and one of our biggest supporters. If you come to a Happy Seed pop-up, it’s very likely you’ll see her there nibbling on an empanada and enjoying dinner with a view!
Photographer: Vivi Carrasco