Vegetarians looking for dining conducive to their dietary practices may soon have a new option in Grass Valley.
“We’re expanding in different directions,” said Chuck Stuthard, owner of Nevada City’s Fudenjüce, which is looking to open a new location and expand its current site.
“We’re attempting to do that,” he said. “I don’t know how quickly we will be.”
Stuthard would not specify where in Grass Valley he is looking to open a second location.
He is applying for a grant to renovate his inaugural location at 815 Zion St., in Nevada City’s Seven Hills Business District.
“We really like the location we have. It really fits us. But it’s not the ideal kitchen,” Stuthard said. “If we got a grant and (were) able to put the kitchen out a bit, that would be ideal.”
Stuthard reached out to customers on Facebook in the last couple of weeks to secure enough votes to be considered for a piece of $3 million in grants that Chase Bank and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce are offering.
While Stuthard said Fudenjüce had already garnered the nearly 300 requisite votes for consideration as of Thursday, he encouraged people to continue voting today — the last day of voting.
“While we won’t know for a couple of months whether we have been awarded a grant or not, we nonetheless … have now obtained enough necessary votes to have our grant application considered for a grant award by their committee,” Stuthard told customers on Fudenjüce’s Facebook page.
Part of Stuthard’s motivation for Fudenjüce came from being fed up with vegetarian offerings that “tasted like cardboard,” he said.
“We wanted to show people you could live this way and eat vegetarian food that tastes good,” Stuthard said. “It is possible.”
When Planet Juice came up for sale in 2005, Stuthard and four friends snapped up the small business and began expanding its food offerings.
Opting for a name that better reflected their menu, Stuthard sponsored a contest among Nevada Union High School art students in 2007 to come up with a new logo to go with the whimsical, fake German word, “Fudenjüce.” The winner received free smoothies for a year.
In the nearly 10 years since it opened, Fudenjüce has expanded and outgrown its Nevada City headquarters — especially its kitchen, Stuthard said.
“We’ve always reached capacity there,” he said. “We have always settled at that fact. But we are at a point now where we are 10 years into this that we can (expand).”
The food business was not foreign to Stuthard, as his family once owned Whitey’s Jolly Kone, a popular hamburger eatery in West Sacramento.
Stuthard came aboard Fudenjüce with a solid business background, having worked in real estate and for several large banks.
“We are looking to expand regardless of the grant,” Stuthard said.
“But I need 80 to 100 grand to make sure we get what it is going to take.”
Fudenjüce’s all-vegetarian meals include many organic ingredients but not genetically modified organisms “until in-depth research on their long-range consequences has been completed.”
It also offers all-organic, fair-trade, whole-bean, freshly ground coffee from Vaneli’s Handcrafted Coffees.
With a goal of running a business with a conscience, the restaurant also supports local farmers, charities, artists, musicians, schools, organizations, businesses, people, animals and plants, according to its website.
“Ideally, I have this idea about three to five more locations where the employees could grow, too, and this would be an employee-owned place,” Stuthard said.