If she were upset about it, you would not be able to blame Makini Howell. In 2015, she opened Sugar Plum on 15th Ave E in her usual low-key way that put the vegan and plant-based treats and soft-serve ice cream before any hype. Now, Howell smiles as she has watched as the first six months of her latest new hype-free but extremely delicious thing quietly settle into its niche on 12th Ave next to her long-loved Plum.
Plum Chopped opened about six months ago, Howell says, and is filling in a major gap in the Capitol Hill daytime food chain.
“The idea is a quick healthy lunch on the Hill that won’t break your bank,” Howell said. “Lunch for $10.”
Howell said the “super creative,” hearty, 32-ounce vegan salad bowls, soups, and sandwiches were all born of her work as a touring chef for Plum fan Stevie Wonder a few years back. Presented with the opportunity by landlord Liz Dunn to take over a former steak restaurant space in the Piston Ring building, Howell says she turned to her NYC years to find a concept for the street-facing component of the project. “I lived in New York and all I did was go to salad bars,” she freely admits.
Plum Catering, meanwhile, puts the expanded kitchen from the departed Manhattan to good use supporting Howell’s catering business.
Everything is planned for portability and can be taken to go. Or you can find a place to perch around the Piston Ring building out of the rain — on dry days, Chopped seating tucks onto the 12th Ave sidewalk. With 7 AM opening hours, you can also grab a $10 breakfast. And, while the unique offerings of 15th Ave’s Sugar Plums might not always be on the city’s hype radar, Howell has coming plans to help change that with the addition of a sweets counter at Chopped.
It’s altogether an efficient, low-key but creative new part of the neighborhood — just like the rest of Howell’s Capitol Hill creations.
Plum Chopped is located at 1419 12th Ave. Hours are 7 AM to 6 PM, Monday through Friday, Saturdays 11 AM to 6 PM. You can learn more at plumbistro.com.