Quontay Turner is sharing her knowledge of plants and their care, as well as continuing to foster a sense of community in her overlapping worlds.Read Story
Patrick McAuley Brings Plant-Based Hot Dogs to the Fenway Faithful
Baseball and hot dogs.
They go together like the Green Monster and Pesky’s Pole, Lansdowne Street and Yawkey Way, the seventh-inning stretch at Fenway Park and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” It may be a daunting task to improve on such a classic combination, but Patrick McAuley ’12 has plans to do just that through PlantPub Fenway, the newest location of his popular vegan restaurant set to open in summer 2022.
After opening the first PlantPub location in Kendall Square in 2020 (which has since been visited by celebrities including Zendaya and Ben Stiller), McAuley and his team will be taking over the 8,000-square-foot location of the former Boston Beer Works directly across the street from Fenway Park. The new restaurant will offer everything from burgers and pizza to wings (the cauliflower wings are McAuley’s favorite) and ice cream—and yes, even Fenway Franks—all made from plants.
“We’ll have it all,” McAuley says. “And it’ll all be done in a way that’s a little better for you and better for the world.”
Opening a restaurant in arguably one of the most popular areas of the city is a result of years of work, connections, and even a few cold calls. But McAuley’s initial interest in pursuing a plant-based lifestyle came—for lack of better terms—out of left field.
Everything meaningful I’ve done in my life has been a result of me going into the unknown and hoping for the best.
After graduating from WPI in 2012 with a degree in management engineering and a focus on mechanical engineering, the only concrete aspect of McAuley’s plan was that he didn’t have one.
“I can’t say I really had a vision at all,” he says with a laugh, adding that his love and passion at the time was football; he was a quarterback for the Engineers. “I figured I would end up in some area of engineering, but I didn’t really have a plan much beyond 2012, to be honest. I just kind of stumbled into where I am now.”
A plant-based lifestyle wasn’t even on McAuley’s radar during his college years. Instead, he focused on a more traditional high-protein diet that he followed until he was about 25. Then he began developing arthritis, which he initially chalked up to over a decade of playing contact sports. A fateful decision to switch out his breakfasts for green smoothies was the catalyst to where he is today.
“It led me down this path of experimentation, and I just eliminated foods from my diet that didn’t make me feel as good as that smoothie did,” he explains.
Six months later, that path of experimentation led to a full-fledged lifestyle change—McAuley started a podcast, wrote a book, and gave a TED Talk that’s been viewed over a million times, all with a focus on the benefits of a plant-based diet.
After reaching out through cold calls and coffee meetups, McAuley partnered with entrepreneur and investor in plant-based foods Sebastiano Cossia Castiglioni and renowned chef Mary Dumont to use their shared love of plant-based foods to develop PlantPub.
“It’s a fully mission-aligned team,” McAuley says. “That makes the challenges a lot easier.”
Speaking of challenges, let’s get back to the whole “opening a plant-based restaurant right next to one of the most beloved ballparks in America” thing. The concept is exciting, for sure, but it also has the potential to be downright terrifying. Boston sports fans are known for their loyalty to both their favorite teams and the traditions surrounding them; how do you break through the “hot dogs and beer” mentality that tends to go hand-in-hand with baseball and other sports, so much so that it’s just as big a pastime as the game itself?
McAuley sees it as an opportunity.
“We like to describe ourselves as a bridge,” he says, adding that he and his team work hard to create food and an atmosphere rooted in approachability. “We know there’s going to be an extra layer of scrutiny, but we’re an approachable way for people to experiment a little bit, to show that you don’t have to sacrifice any of the flavor or taste that you love.”
While McAuley’s path isn’t typical of an engineer’s, it is one where he followed his passion through firsthand learning, which is what WPI is all about.
An Engineer’s Mindset
“The best thing about WPI is that it teaches you practicality,” he says. “You’re solving problems, and what I’ve learned in business is that it’s just constant problem solving. Most things you don’t have answers to, but you need that engineering mindset to be able to reverse-engineer something, find a solution, and keep things moving.”
When Stiller stopped by PlantPub back in April, it wasn’t just a cool photo opportunity; it was also the chance for McAuley to meet an actor who starred in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a movie McAuley counts as one of his favorites because it “demonstrates the power of stepping out into the unknown and embracing the uncertainty of life.”
If anyone knows anything about that, it’s McAuley.
“Everything meaningful I’ve done in my life has been a result of me going into the unknown and hoping for the best,” he says. “You always leave with something to learn, and everything I’m most proud of has been accomplished by going beyond what’s comfortable and embracing that challenge.”