Oceanside’s Plot restaurant aims to launch vegan, zero-waste dining movement

Owners Jessica and Davin Waite and partner Christopher Logan hope to expand plant-based concept across Southern California


Before it opened last week in Oceanside, The Plot restaurant had a lot of buzzwords associated with its concept: Proudly plant-based, vegan, cruelty-free and zero-waste ethos.

But its owners, married restaurateurs Jessica and Davin Waite and chef/consultant Christopher Logan, say now that the first diners have sampled The Plot’s eclectic menu, they hope it becomes known as something else.

“It’s not about judging. It’s about serving a bad-ass meal,” said Davin, who is recognized as one of the region’s top and most creative sushi chefs. ”We’re trying to walk the line between doing cool stuff for plant-based eaters and pleasing the omnivores at the same time.”

Three years in the planning stages, The Plot opened Jan. 29 in a 4,400-square-foot restaurant building formerly occupied by Hon Sushi. It’s a two-minute walk from the Waites’ other restaurants, Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub and the Whet Noodle ramen shop. The Plot has 99 seats indoors and 48 on the patio. Open now just for dinner, it will add breakfast and lunch service in the coming months. Besides encouraging a plant-based diet, the restaurant’s goal is to divert as much waste from landfills as possible and to use renewable and recycled products whenever possible.

The menu developed by Davin and Logan offers appetizers, vegan sushi, soups and salads, entrees and desserts priced from $5 to $15. Davin makes most of the meat substitutes in-house and labels them on the menu with an umlaut in homage to a favorite English rock band, Motörhead. These include the kale stem marröw, mushroom-based cräb cakes and taköyaki, which are Asian-style hush puppies made with celery root pulp. Specialties include the polenta with chörizo, chickën and waffles and meatless loaf made with lentil and wild rice and a mushroom/beet demiglaze. They’re served with wine, draft and canned beer and kombucha on tap.

“These are two chefs who really like good food, but they’re leaving the animal out of it,” Jessica said. “Our goal is to be a restaurant that just happens to be plant-based.”

The Plot arrives at a time when public interest in vegan dining and zero-waste practices is at an all-time high, though the three partners are not new to the party. Jessica is a vegan who serves as president of San Diego’s Berry Good Food Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing a healthy, integrated food system. Davin is a longtime advocate for sustainable sourcing and “nose-to-tail” dining, which aims to use all parts of the fish and animals he serves. And Logan, who has overseen major culinary operations at several regional casinos and racetracks, practices low-waste policies and earned multiple awards for the composting program he launched at the Del Mar Racetrack in the early 2000s.

The two chefs have enjoyed collaborating over the past year on recipes and waste-reduction ideas. Everything but the leaves of the pineapple go into the pineapple cherry upside down cake. The spent oats from making oat milk are baked into muffins. Even the wine corks will be re-purposed. Outside, the landscape around the patio tables and parking lot are edible herbs and plants, and the trio has planted a raised vegetable garden on a lot behind the restaurant.

Since marrying Jessica in 2015, Davin, an omnivore, has added many warmly received vegan items to the Wrench menu. And when she came up with her idea for The Plot in 2017, he started experimenting with dishes and sharing ideas with friends, including fellow Oceanside resident Logan.

“I have a really tight circle of chefs around me who help me figure out how to fix things and they will listen to my crazy ideas at 4 a.m.,” Davin said. “Chris is one of those chefs I could always call on to figure out how to execute the crazier stuff I dreamed up, because I’m a complete anarchist.”

Over the past 30 years, the classically trained Logan has directed culinary operations at Pechanga and Seven Mile casinos, The Del Mar and Santa Anita racetracks and Blue Coral Seafood. But in recent years, he was developing his own idea for a restaurant with a menu that would be 85 percent plant-based. Although he’s an omnivore, Logan saw plant-forward cooking as both good for the health, the environment and the pocketbook, since animal proteins are expensive to procure.

When Jessica shared her business plan for The Plot with Logan in 2018, he decided that rather than open his own project, he’d join theirs. He’s in charge of setting up the restaurant’s recipe management, systems and training so that the concept can be replicated. If all goes well, the trio hope to open two more locations in San Diego County and two in Orange County in future years. The Oceanside flagship restaurant will become the commissary kitchen for the other locations and the headquarters of a new plant-focused catering company.

The restaurant’s decor reflects the trio’s backgrounds and ideals. Wood reclaimed from a mushroom farm lines the walls and table areas. There’s a sleekness representing Logan’s New York heritage, the simplicity of London, where Davin spent half of his childhood, and touches of Paris and Barcelona, where the Waites love to travel. There’s also an area where customers can buy Plot merchandise, like “Proudly Plant Based” T-shirts, which help spread their philosophy of “feeding the evolution” of ecologically conscious dining.

“I want to build a business that doesn’t compromise,” Jessica said. “Incredible food, environmentally respectful practices and successful enough that others want to replicate it, amplifying the benefits.”

The Plot

Hours: 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. 4 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Closed Mondays.

Where: 1733 S. Coast Highway, Oceanside