Plant-based burgers are a popular item on the menu at Craft Roots. Photo: Contributed

Owners Justin Gaich and his father, Nick, are delighted with the reception they’ve received from the Morgan Hill community since opening their plant-based restaurant, Craft Roots Vegan Bar and Grill, in the summer of 2019. 

Located next to Trail Dust BBQ (itself a Morgan Hill staple for 20 years), Craft Roots survived the pandemic on the strength of the restaurant’s concept and team—and perhaps on the momentum of the growing plant-based nutrition movement. 

Both Gaich and his father are San Diego natives, but moved north to Morgan Hill in 1989, when Nick took a job in the healthcare industry, working for Stanford for more than 20 years. Inspired by the love of Italian food served by his Grandma Grace, Justin Gaich has been in restaurants since he was 15—first as a busser, then as a server at Chevys, after which, ironically, he spent nearly 10 years managing Trail Dust BBQ. 

Craft Roots co-owner Justin Gaich and Chef Tyler Graham have led the downtown Morgan Hill restaurant to popularity and success in recent years. Photo: Contributed

Many customers remember him from his Trail Dust days, and he says it’s always funny to hear the response when people learn the full story. 

“The two concepts could not be on more opposite sides of the spectrum,” says Gaich. “It creates options for everyone. We don’t push the ‘vegan movement,’ but instead create an environment where no one is judged for their diets. We just want our food and drinks to shine without the caveat of being ‘vegan.’ It’s just great food with great vibes.”  

The restaurant was inspired by Justin’s wife, Nysaa, who switched to a plant-based diet literally overnight after watching a handful of documentaries on the vegan movement. 

“My wife came up with the idea of opening a vegan restaurant in Morgan Hill in 2018,” says Gaich. “She saw the need for a healthy veggie option and I was ready to own and operate a concept myself. We never looked back and have never once regretted the decision to live and eat vegan.”

The couple’s living room was littered with large sticky notes for months as they struggled with the right name. 

“I was forced to write the (doing business as) name on county paperwork,” says Gaich of the moment of truth. “I took a deep breath in the pale light of the county office and wrote down what first popped in my head: Craft Roots Vegan Bar and Grill.”  

Consultants with major pedigree in the Vegan scene of Oakland and San Francisco, Chefs Jeremey Nelson and Lacey Sharr, helped the Gaiches craft a menu that offers healthy food and vegan comfort food like burgers and pizza. 

Gaich counts himself lucky that he gets to work with Nicholas Mattson, a mixologist with 20 years of experience, and Chef Tyler Graham, a special talent in the vegan culinary world, who has been with them for two years now. 

“We’re dedicated to making Craft Roots a five-star experience that everyone can enjoy,” says Gaich.        

Since Craft Roots opened, Spade and Plow Organics has been providing fresh veggies, and recently, they partnered with 3 Feathers Farms, a new small batch organic farm located three miles from downtown Morgan Hill. “We are always on the lookout for new and local offerings, and being so close to Salinas and Watsonville offers endless possibilities,” Gaich added. 

Graham, a vegan for more than seven years, is classically trained, with experience in top-rated restaurants in Las Vegas, San Francisco and the South Bay. 

Gaich says there is an enormous amount of prep work needed to create world class vegan food. “On a busy day, we will have up to 10 people working in the kitchen,” he says. 

Must-try items on the menu are the buffalo bites and cauliflower bites, a vegan staple that is featured on many vegan restaurant menus. Gaich’s goal was to make the best, and he believes they’ve hit the mark. 

But it’s the burgers that really make a statement. 

The waffle fries, pictured, are one of many popular items on the menu at Craft Roots Vegan Bar & Grill. Photo: Contributed

“We use Beyond Burger patties and Mamu, a local mushroom company in Morgan Hill that specializes in utilizing the health benefits from mushrooms,” says Justin Gaich. “Topped with our house made sauce and fresh produce, we have the best craft burgers around.”

Their vegan brioche buns come from Bakery Rocken Wagner in Los Angeles, and their “Bakon” is from Thrilling Foods, a new company they have been working with to help refine the product. 

“It’s a tofu-based smoked ‘bacon’ that has all the texture and flavor you would want from a vegan alternative,” says Gaich.        

Happy hours at Craft Roots are 2-4pm Tuesday through Thursday, and are becoming a local favorite. The restaurant takes reservations and offers plenty of dining space, as well as a bar, serving craft beers, of course. Gaich encourages dining in, and does not use third party apps, because the 30% cut is devastating to the bottom line, he says. Running a restaurant is already tough enough. 

Craft Roots’ ultimate goal is to expand.  

“We are currently looking to get in on a Cloud Kitchen Concept (developed by Uber) that will push the brand into a delivery industry that we currently don’t take advantage of,” says Gaich. “Also, the Town of Los Gatos has been actively recruiting us to find a location, and I have always wanted to open up over the hill in Santa Cruz or Monterey.” 

They also have their eyes on the Cloud Kitchen planned for Sunnyvale.

Vegan lovers, rejoice. Plant-based deliciousness could be coming closer to your plate. 

Craft Roots is located at 17230 Monterey Road in Morgan Hill. For more information, visit the restaurant’s website at

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