GREEN OWL

The Green Owl Cafe on Madison's Near East Side photographed in 2012.

CAPITAL TIMES ARCHIVES

Madison's sole vegetarian and vegan restaurant is for sale after eight years, its owner wanting to pursue other interests.

Jennie Capellaro, who opened the Green Owl Cafe at 1970 Atwood Ave., in December 2009, wants to stress that the restaurant isn't closing. She'd just like to do something else.

The best part of running the restaurant has been her hardworking staff, Capellaro said. "I wish there was a movement among them to take over. I just think they do such a great job."

Right now she has 24 employees and singles out her pastry chef Cara Moseley, who's been with her since the beginning, for recognition. Many other staff members have stayed a long time, too, she said.

The restaurant's success -- including good reviews, accolades, and a recent nod from Food & Wine online for being the "best vegetarian restaurant in Wisconsin" -- has made all the hard work worth it, Capellaro said.

She was surprised that Madison didn't have a vegetarian restaurant before she opened Green Owl, and is also amazed that none have come since. A vegan restaurant called Surya Cafe opened last spring in Fitchburg, but there are no others in the area.

Once in a while she hears a rumor of another vegetarian restaurant opening, but it hasn't happened, Capellaro said.

So far, Capellaro, who doesn't own the building, has only put word out on Facebook that the 2,000-square-foot restaurant is for sale. Eventually she intends to advertise more broadly in case there would be interest from someone outside of Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, her next move is uncertain. "This has been wonderful, but it doesn't give you a lot of time to breathe and think about things. And that is what I'm really looking for, a little bit of a break. And then figure it out from there."

Capellaro has a degree from UW Law School, "for whatever that's worth," she said, noting that she's never practiced law.

Instead, she went right into opening the restaurant. "I don't know how much value that is, but I have it, and possibly could work my way into something."

Plus, she has ideas for other projects. "I just need a little time to find myself," she said.

Read more restaurant news at go.madison.com/restaurantnews.

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Wisconsin State Journal food writer Samara Kalk Derby brings you the latest news on the Madison area's eclectic restaurant scene.