She ended up renting the space the deli was in after the owner retired, and Desert Roots Kitchen opened in July 2012.
“My friends quit their jobs to come work with me,” she said. “I always talked about a cafe or a restaurant where all the food was vegan. I loved food and cooking, but I didn’t even really think about doing it until it happened.”
The restaurant is small—just over 400 square feet. The interior is largely kitchen space, with a counter and glass case for menu items. Patrons get their food to go or enjoy it on the patio. And when Robin took over the space, she said she made it her own while honoring the history of the deli that came before her.
“Everything here has a story,” Robin said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wanted to preserve the history and the love that was here.”
Robin said something that sets Desert Roots Kitchen apart from other eateries is her ever-changing menu. The menu changes daily and is written on a chalkboard and a brown paper lunch bag.
“I didn’t want to repeat things,” Robin said. “My cooking is more passionate and intuitive. We have a structure to the menu—wraps, salads, that kind of thing—and we just change what is in them every day. I go with my gut and I go with my heart. I say we are 100% vegan and 100% quirky.”
Robin said people often tell her when they come in that they feel like they are at their grandma’s kitchen.
“We make everything from scratch here,” Robin said. “What we make is just really good food that’s not processed. People want real food.”