Forage Kitchen flavors Champaign-Urbana community, food


Jacob Slabosz

Forage Kitchen, located off of East Green Street, serves healthy, vegetarian and vegan foods to University students. According to Founder and President Henry Aschauer, the restaurant is dedicated to providing food options that are both nutritious and delicious.

By Kylie Corral, buzz Editor

New businesses, restaurants and fun places to go are never in short supply, popping up all over town. Forage Kitchen, a restaurant dedicated to serving healthy, vegetarian, vegan and more friendly meal options in Champaign, is one of these places.

Henry Aschauer, founder and president of Forage Kitchen, also said he is president of Forage Kombucha, located in Madison, Wis.

“Similar to Green Street, we have State Street (in Wisconsin) that is very close to campus where most of the students and the faculty and the staff will go for lunch or for dinner,” Aschauer said. “It’s where the majority of the food options kind of are, and (when we) opened our first location, didn’t necessarily know what we were doing but (we) worked a lot of hours in the actual store figuring that out.”

Aschauer added that the storefront opened in Champaign in August of 2020 after the first location was opened in 2015 in Madison, Wis.

“(We’re) continuing to offer really healthy, nutritious but delicious food for our customers … just trying to make it as approachable of a restaurant atmosphere as possible for folks that might not be regular salad consumers,” Aschauer said. “So we don’t want there to be any stuffiness or any pretension. We want to break down any of those barriers and try to make everybody feel welcome coming into the store. Whether that’s for the first time or whether they come in on a daily basis.”

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    Harry Krigel, a previous general manager at Brew Lab, is currently working at Forage Kitchen. They said that they have been in the food and beverage industry for about 23 years. They also said Forage Kitchen is perfect for the Champaign-Urbana community.

    “I feel as far as you know, this community, it’s a real match because with Champaign-Urbana … people are very thoughtful of what they’re eating and where it came from,” Krigel said.

    Forage Kitchen also supports local vendors and farmers in its creation of meals for customers, Aschauer said.

    Krigel added that even though there are vegan and vegetarian options, meals can be very flexible for those who prefer less vegetables and more meat.

    “Not everybody is vegan … So we have some amazing chicken where it’s more nutritious for you.” Krigel said. “It’s bone broth (and) nutrients instead of just like, you know, let’s get chicken breasts just because that’s what everybody wants. It’s all about the flavors and healthy lifestyle here.”

    Krigel also said being in such a diverse community is something special to Champaign-Urbana.

    “Here it’s such a national snapshot on campus now. We do have our vegans, students, professors (and) people who work at the universities that aren’t professors. We get it all here, and it’s so much fun. It’s never boring.”

    Aschauer agreed, saying that at Forage Kitchen they never want to get “preachy” about being vegan and vegetarian, but instead they try to create a menu that is easy to navigate for everyone.

    “There’s nothing really like us,” Krigel said. “I really fell in love with this company as far as you know, the ethics and how they take care of their employees. Like I’ve never heard of a place that gives you $20 a month to go get a gym membership and put it toward some kind of better healthy lifestyle. It’s sincere and genuine.”

    Krigel said that same philosophy goes for the customers, mentioning that many of them come to the store on a daily basis.

    “This is part of their daily routine, and we have enough options to get creative every single day. So you’re never going to be bored,” Krigel said.

    And while Forage Kitchen is frequented by the students and professors of Campustown, it’s not limited to just them.

    “So while from an outsider’s perspective, I don’t see any reason why we can’t be welcomed by all different areas of the community, not just the student population,” Aschauer said.

    Aschauer also added that everyone at Forage Kitchen is open to constructive criticism and suggestions of what they can add to their menu.

    “Try us out. For sure. I am obviously biased, but I haven’t gotten sick of our food yet. And it’s been eight years. Don’t be afraid of creating your own or asking for modifications or substitutions too. Be open to exploration. They’re great and they’re friendly and they’re open to folks customizing their goals however they see fit,” Aschauer said.

    Forage Kitchen also has an app that helps customers know what their options are, lets them schedule when they want to pick up their meals and more.

    Both Aschauer and Krigel said they are excited about the expansion of Forage Kitchen to grocery stores and the location that is already in Champaign.

    “You know, since starting with Forage, I’ve noticed good groups (of) like maybe six people (who) will all sit together and maybe might have their laptops. You know, it’s like, we have our outlets here so plug your computer in, get your work project done while you’re getting your snack on. It’s definitely awesome,” Krigel said.


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