J. Selby’s is a plant-based restaurant on the corner of Selby and Victoria Avenues in St. Paul. They serve plant-based comfort foods, such as burgers and wraps made with meat and cheese substitutes, as well as veg-forward dishes like stir-fries and salads. They also offer a variety of baked goods and soft serve! Read our Q&A with owner Matt Clayton (pictured above) to learn more about this local business.
Tell us about your story with food.
Ten years ago, I started eating a vegan diet to see if plant-based food could improve my half marathon times, a technique used by some athletes in endurance sports. I was working as a general surgeon back then, and I applied the knowledge and focus I used in my career to a study of cookbooks and meal planning. I saw my race times improve significantly.
When did you open J. Selby’s, and what interested you in running a plant-based restaurant?
J. Selby’s opened in April 2017. At the time, there were limited options in the Twin Cities for eating out as a vegan — restaurants may have had one plant-based dish, but it often felt like an afterthought to the rest of the menu. I was traveling in Phoenix, Ariz., and happened to eat at the Green Vegetarian, a vegan restaurant. I was impressed and thought, “We need a place like this in the Twin Cities!”
What are you most proud of accomplishing since you opened?
Getting open was the first accomplishment. It was difficult to find a small business loan at first, and I was repeatedly told that the restaurant was a terrible idea, the location was bad, my lack of restaurant experience was a problem, etc. But here we are, five years later, still open during a pandemic. We figure out a way to make things work. I’m also proud of how we conduct ourselves. The restaurant industry can feel very exclusive and exploitive. We have always paid our staff a living wage and offered benefits like health insurance and retirement. I think this should be the industry standard.
How can the co-op community support your restaurant and mission?
Go plant-based! We hope to do our part in making plant-based eating the norm. It is more sustainable and better for the planet than the alternative.
Our Community Partners are small, independent local businesses that have been hit especially hard by the effects of COVID-19. Join us in solidarity and show your love for our community by continuing to eat, drink and shop locally. Co-op member-owners get 10% off their purchase of $15 or more at J. Selby’s!