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Owner of vegan food truck The Happy Pig opens market in Bellmore

The "chicken" sandwich at The Happy Pig in

The "chicken" sandwich at The Happy Pig in Bellmore features a soy and seitan-based fried "chicken" topped with lettuce and tomato. Credit: Joann Vaglica

What started in 2018 as a food truck specializing in over-the-top potato tots and chicken fingers turned vegan just before COVID landed on anyone’s radar. And now, the mobile eatery is going static with the opening of a mini market in Bellmore.

Wendy Lantigua opened the space in July offering a plant-based menu largely composed of hot handhelds. Specialty items — empanadas (2 for $7), "chicken" sandwiches ($15) and "clucket buckets" ($8-$25) — are available daily, while other comfort food is served only on designated days. Throughout the week, expect to find tacos, "sausage" and peppers on a roll, avocado toast, spring rolls and loaded smashed potatoes. You'll also find loaded nachos and "chicken" bowls with roasted potatoes, melted dairy-free cheese and corn.

The shop also sells local grub from companies including Pop This popcorn, Under the Table hot sauce and A Little Brittle Heaven’s almond brittle. A refrigerated case is stocked with foodstuffs from All American Wontons (sweet and savory wontons) and Plant Provisions (deli slices).

Half of the pale-pink walls in the shop are prettied with pig-centric décor, but one wall in particular demands attention: The Happy Pig’s logo — a pink school bus driven by a … wait for it … happy pig, who’s joined by a happy chicken. The mural was painted by Lantigua’s 21-year-old daughter, Alex Cannava.

In addition to operating a food truck and market, Lantigua is also behind the popular Food Truck Fridays event, now held at St. Dominic’s Church in Oyster Bay.

She said she’s always wanted to turn to veganism, both personally and professionally, but she "didn’t feel comfortable being a vegan truck and eating a steak. It just didn’t make sense to me." Health issues finally inspired her to make the change.

Lantigua studied culinary arts at the New York Institute of Technology and initially set out in 2014 offering baked goods at craft fairs and farmers markets. She went on to roast corn from a trailer before purchasing a school bus that launched as a non-vegan food truck in 2018.

Lantigua credits her grandmothers for teaching her the ropes in the kitchen — her Italian grandmother for teaching her how to bake and her Puerto Rican grandmother for teaching her how to make empanadas. "If my grandmother knew I was making vegan empanadas, she would think I’m crazy," she joked.

The takeout only spot is open Mondays to Thursdays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 1503 Bellmore Ave. in North Bellmore. To place an order, text 516-448-5126 or call the shop at 516-636-5040. thehappypig.co.

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