Maggie Bauman owns Little Gem, a new cafe that highlights vegetarian and vegan menu items at 109 Bangor Mall Blvd. in the same development as the Bangor Mall Hannaford. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN
Little Gem, a cafe that highlights vegetarian and vegan menu items, opened Tuesday at 109 Bangor Mall Boulevard in the same development as the Bangor Mall Hannaford. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

A new cafe on Bangor Mall Boulevard will highlight vegetarian and vegan menu items and other healthy treats, capitalizing on a growing nationwide trend toward plant-based diets.

Little Gem, which opened Tuesday at 109 Bangor Mall Blvd. in the same development as the Bangor Mall Hannaford, is owned by Maggie Bauman. She moved with her mother, Sara, to Bangor last year from Toledo, Ohio, where for more than a decade they helped run a successful family restaurant called Grumpy’s.

Little Gem serves an array of salads, bowls, wraps and smoothies, most of which are vegan or vegetarian. Maggie Bauman, 31, said Grumpy’s was renowned for its salads, and that she learned everything about cooking from her aunt Jennifer, who was the chef there.

The Jen-Pen salad with edamame, avocado, crushed peanuts and miso-sesame dressing. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

“The idea for this place was to take the idea of the salads we made there, and do something here as a kind of fast casual, all takeout concept,” she said.

The Baumans, who are both vegan, moved to Bangor after Sara, who grew up on the East Coast, retired from the family’s restaurant. Maggie knew she wanted to open her own restaurant, and landed on the spot by the mall, which it shares with Mainely Supplements, a nutritional supply store. Maggie Bauman makes all the food, while her mother works in the front.

A customer places an order with Sara Bauman at Little Gem, a new cafe that highlights vegetarian and vegan menu, on Friday. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

“We felt like there was a bit of a void in the area for fresh salads and vegan options,” Maggie Bauman said. “I think we really complement Mainely Supplements, since we are both promoting health and wellness. We’re really loving it here in Bangor.”

Everything on the menu is vegan or vegetarian, except for The Gem salad, which has chicken and bacon. There is, however, the Vegan Gem salad, which features jackfruit chicken and tofu bacon, alongside sweet and savory ingredients like mushrooms, pita chips, raisins and poppyseed dressing.

The Jen-Pen salad and PB+J smoothie at Little Gem, a new cafe that highlights vegetarian and vegan menu items. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Some other salads include the Hey Jude, a caesar-style with chickpeas, quinoa and caesar-tahini dressing, and Jen-Pen, with edamame, avocado, crushed peanuts and sesame-miso dressing. In addition to the salads and smoothies, Bauman plans to add vegan baked goods in the coming months.

PB+J smoothie made with strawberry, raspberry, banana, peanut butter, maple syrup and oat milk. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Bauman said that even though the cafe has only been open for a few days, they’d already received great comments from customers.

“We’ve gotten some really good feedback,” she said. “I think people are really excited to have a place like this in Bangor.”

Little Gem is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To place an order, call 207-291-0487.

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.