Trained as an accountant, the thirty-seven-year-old first-time restaurant owner says, "My heart wasn't in accounting anymore." Was it ever? "Well, maybe not," she smiles, but it was a practical career choice, and she was good at it. Always a cook, she and her husband and co-owner, Danny, had been talking about opening a restaurant for ten years. (He often works a weekend shift at Vedge, though he has a full-time job in IT in Plymouth at Humanetics, maker of the world's finest crash-test dummies.)
Ratke went back to school at EMU and got her B.S. in dietetics. "The EMU program focuses on entrepreneurship, and in one of my classes we had to write a business plan," she says--and that's pretty much the one she's using at Vedge Cafe.
Crisp, clean, and appetizing, painted in shades of celery, persimmon, black, and white, Vedge Cafe is, like its owner, almost entirely vegan. Cheese is where Ratke's resolve weakens a little. At the moment, the fresh mozzarella panini is the only non-vegan item on the menu, but more may come. She can't break the cheese habit at her Salem Township home either, where she grows a lot of her favorite herb, basil: "I haven't veganized my [Parmesan-laden] pesto yet."