For years now, The Sprout’s former owner Julia Bloomquist has let The Sprout’s building be an incubator for start-up restaurants like Mohamad Ali’s, Holy Grail Donuts, and POYO, by offering them her space during times when her restaurant was closed for business (late nights, etc). But in early 2016, news broke she’d be selling The Sprout to the latest startup she was housing: POYO.
POYO, run by Elizabeth Mysyk and Greg Dunn, got started as a late night pop-up taco spot back in the summer of 2015. They happen to be vegetarian too, and sling tacos, burritos, and enchiladas that substitute meat for refried beans or TVP “ground beef.”
Late at night on the weekends, the lineup to get in can be out the door. The Sprout’s popular open mic night on Thursdays, and POYO’s taco service at the same time, have also worked well alongside each other.
To be clear, POYO didn’t just purchase the building, they purchased The Sprout as is, with the same solid townie-favourite menu and all. They intend to still keep the two separate, more or less, which is a wise 2-spaces-for-the-price-of-1 move.
“The whole thing happened pretty organically,” says Elizabeth. “We opened Poyo in July to get out of our dead-end jobs, and start creating something of our own where we could feel good about the work we were doing and the product we were serving. We would never have been able to do that if Jules had not offered us the opportunity, and for that we are, of course, very grateful.”
As fate would have it, Julia was looking to move on from The Sprout, just as POYO’s Elizabeth and Greg were looking to sink their teeth into running Poyo. “Taking over The Sprout was nearly as sudden for us as it was for everyone who first heard about it!”
“The whole thing moved very quickly, and for now we are just trying to keep up, and to tighten up ordering and maintenance, and other not-so-interesting things like that. But there is plenty of fun to come! We hope to bring the Sprout a slightly different, less static menu this spring/summer and get The Sprout’s wonderful, creative staff more involved in tapping into The Sprout’s full potential.”
“We would like to start selling more of The Sprout’s own goods, maybe some POYO hot sauce and taco spice, and more items independently produced by our staff (like Meg Harnum’s colouring books). The Sprout and Poyo will continue to have different menus, but we will be looking at putting a little POYO into the new Sprout menu, and maybe even offering the ever-popular Sprout pad thai during POYO service.
Lots of ideas are being bounced around, “some wilder than others,” and Elizabeth stresses that she and Greg owe much, “not only to Jules, but to The Sprout staff for being stoked instead of skeptical during this transition, and to Tim Knight and Chelsea Spencer for their indispensable help with POYO, and of course to our families (Ruby, Wayne, Deb, and Kim) who helped us in all kinds of ways with our crazy new venture(s).”