In the midst of a snack renaissance dominated by carefully curated grocers, a somewhat new corner spot on Knickerbocker Avenue might just be Bushwick’s first all-vegan grocery and deli. According to its owner, it wants to offer something different: a “no-frills” convenience store inspired by hardware stores, truck stops and specialty grocers. After spending most of her career around grocers, retail shops and eventually working as a buyer for Oren’s Coffee, Jaime Jarvis started to fantasize about what she would do. Called Yough to Go and opened last December, the store offers what she tells me is “a unique assortment of everything everyone needs all the time.”
For Jarvis, this results in what she estimates is around 1,000 or so brands of vegan breads, spreads, snacks, dips, cold beverages, sundry finds as well as joints and other cannabis products like the Tippy Tops brand of edibles (they’re vegan too, she says). Elsewhere, the store spots local Bushwick brands— breads from L’Imprimerie, mushroom tea from Immorel, and cooking ingredients and snacks from vegan spots like Seitan’s Helper and Alegria.
“I wanted to create a place where you could just bop in and get a single slice of good bread and dip,” she told me, a difference that mattered to her. “Not an entire sandwich or a whole tub of hummus and a big loaf of bread. Snacking is how I’ve always eaten throughout the day – way before the ‘Girl Dinner‘”
The store’s deli offers an assortment of vegan cheeses, meats, sauces and spreads, sold in single scoop servings, along with lunch offerings like a “Spicy Avo Slice,” which at $3 might just be Bushwick’s most affordable avocado toast; “the Shreyo,” which goes for $4 is an equally sweet and savory english muffin filled with cream cheese and apple butter, while the “Yough Sourdough,” at $13 is a smoky and salty layer of baked tofu and baked seitan bacon, creamy blue “cheese” and avocado, pickles and mixed greens smothered with a kind of zingy garlic spread.
In addition to grab and go offerings, Jarvis also sells a bodega’s worth of convenience store items like deodorant, magnets, hardware tools, condoms, sunglasses and batteries. She likened the approach to a truck stop.
“My parents were divorced and I spent a lot of time on the road traveling between families. With all the back and forth, I spent a lot of time in truck stops.” Jarvis told me. “I found it fascinating that you could get a multi-tool as well as a toy and also a souvenir and a delicious burrito. Truck stops don’t take themselves too seriously and they’re not pretentious.”
Truck stops weren’t Jarvis’ only inspiration. Jarvis once spent half a decade working at Trader Joe’s in Northern California. “Trader Joe’s prioritized a personal and authentic environment and created lasting friendships,” she claims, adding that “while many grocery stories seemed to be robotic and merely transactional, the store was fostering a place where both employees and shoppers were having fun.”
“I really wanted to create community through building Yough,”says Jarvitz. “We all want to make change in our own ways, and I think making Yough a utopia of sorts… is the best way for me to elicit change.”
Yough is open daily from 8am to 9pm Monday through Friday, 10pm to 8pm on Saturday and 10am to 7pm on Sunday at 203 Knickerbocker Avenue.
Photos taken by Elise Nikolaisen for Bushwick Daily.
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