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Houston Market welcomes Pure Fare, an all-vegan eatery that accepts dining dollars. Pure Fare replaces Einstein Bagels, which closed in the summer of 2014.

Credit: Mi Jiang

A new restaurant in Houston Market promises to fill a gap in the location and in Penn food offerings.

On Aug. 26, Penn Dining and Bon Appétit opened Pure Fare, created by 2005 College graduate Kriti Sehgal in the lower level of the building.

“At Pure Fare we make foods that are made without gluten, that are locally sourced, that are non-GMO organic and that are nutrient-rich. Pure Fare has always tried to offer food in a casual setting in out-of-the-box ways,” Sehgal said.

Pure Fare’s offerings include salads such as Burmese papaya, snacks like chai pudding or chocolate cookies made with avocado and paninis such as goat cheese and fig, among other items. Sehgal intended for her dishes to be healthy, creative and casual.

“Food is something you can have fun with — it energizes you, can make you feel good both socially and mentally,” Sehgal said.

Following her philosophy on food, Sehgal strives to offer dishes that are well-proportioned, nutrient-dense and gluten-free. Gluten has often been linked to sluggishness.

“We use our ingredients in their purest, most natural form,” Sehgal said. “It’s kind of like taking a new adventure and showing the world that we can go beyond what’s on the market to offer creative, proportioned meals that allow you to feel good after you eat them.”

Pure Fare was established in 2010 and currently operates out of two storefronts near Center City, one at South and 16th streets and another at 21st Street between Walnut and Sansom streets.

Sehgal also operates Agno Grill at 21st and Chestnut streets, “which has the same ‘pure’ philosophy as Pure Fare but with food from all over the Mediterranean,” Sehgal said.

“The folks working at the Houston Market location are Bon Appétit employees, but they have been trained by one of [Sehgal’s] chefs who supported the opening,” Resident District Manager of Bon Appétit Stephen Scardina said. He added that the recipes used in the Houston Market location are Sehgal’s, including a few new recipes specific to the Penn location. The Houston Market location accepts dining dollars.

Sehgal manages a staff of approximately 20 employees across her Center City locations. Several members of Sehgal’s downtown staff are refugees from Burma and Nepal and have inspired Pure Fare’s popular Burmese papaya salad. “One of the refugees even taught Bon Appétit how to make that salad,” Sehgal said.

As Sehgal is helping to offer refugees a chance at a good life, she is appreciative of the opportunities Penn has given and continues to give her.

“I’m so glad to bring what I learned and what I love back to this place that’s had a tremendous impact on my life," Sehgal said. "I get to see this new youth healthy culture and have my food affect students during such an important part of their lives."

She credits Penn with giving her the courage and resources to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams. “The support network Penn has when you’re there and once you leave is phenomenal," Sehgal said. "The people you meet and the contacts that you make, and the access to information and to mentors — it all really gave me the courage to do what I wanted to do."

Adding Pure Fare to the Houston Market selection was a no-brainer for Penn Dining.

“We asked Bon Appétit to help find an element that we were missing in all of our dining programs, and they really only had to go downtown to find Pure Fare — it all just clicked for us,” Director of Business Services Pam Lampitt said.

Penn Dining had been looking to expand its gluten-free and meatless options.

“What [Sehgal] wants to deliver with Pure Fare is exactly what we thought we were missing among our food offerings, and with [Sehgal] having gone to Penn, it was all a very natural fit,” Lampitt said.

“The opening in Houston Market has gone beautifully," Sehgal added. "I’m really happy working with Penn and Penn Dining and their great culinary team — it’s been really nice just to get in there and collaborate and learn from one another."

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