For the 97th week of "7 QUESTION SUNDAY" we shine the spotlight on another influential individual from the PNW. Jennifer Johnson is making health options decision at her eatery, Happy Belly located in downtown Tacoma.
4EVRGRN: Hey, JJ! Tell us a little about yourselves.
JJ: Hi I’m Jennifer, the chef and owner at Happy Belly eatery & juice bar in Downtown Tacoma. Our eatery offers a wide variety of food and drinks with a focus on fresh/healthy cuisine inspired by the many cultures of the world. Vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian food with special care to accommodate dietary restrictions and guest requirements. Happy Belly’s interior has a bright and cheery color scheme, like a garden party is about to take place. With our cozy dining area we invite guests to relax and enjoy themselves. A retail section showcases products made by other local (predominantly) women-owned businesses.
We opened Belly in 2014 after experiencing challenges with food allergies in my own diet. My desire to offer food with transparent ingredient lists shaped the menu at Belly. Happy Belly is currently open Monday-Friday 9am-3pm and soon offering espresso.
- What is one dish everyone must try from your menu?
JJ: Our Red Pepper Kale soup. It’s packed with nutrient-rich veggies in a light tomato and herb broth. The soup is just a bit of a spicy kick that’s wonderful for circulation, the heart, and internal fire.
- You have many different offerings from vegan to gluten free, why is providing those specialty items important to you?
JJ: It’s all about enjoyment, satisfaction, and trust. Having dietary issues is challenging enough, physically and emotionally, without the added worry of accidentally eating the wrong ingredients while dining out. My commitment to my guests to provide them food choices they can trust is paramount. Enjoying your food and the flavors is what makes eating satisfying, and not just a means to stay alive.
- We know this pandemic has hit the restaurant industry hard, how have you had to adapt and how is it going?
JJ: We did Takeout only for a time. That allowed me to do a full remodel of the dining area, juice bar, and kitchen. We have reopened for dine-in with a new look, a more functional layout for staff, and a more efficient work-flow. Work smarter, not harder has never been more important.
- Favorite local artist?
JJ: I have several. Maureen McHugh and Jennifer Mason are standouts. I have their paintings hanging in my home. I love seeing them every day.
- Where is your favorite PNW escape place?
JJ: The Adrift Hotel in Long Beach, WA.
- Best meal in the PNW?
JJ: Primo Grill
Be sure to snag a bite at Happy Belly next time you’re downtown and give them a follow on IG @happybellytacoma and view their menu at www.happybellytacoma.com