Linda Tyczka never expected Minty Wellness to receive the kind of praise it has from meat eaters in Genesee County and beyond.
Among locals, "they're probably our biggest client base," Tyczka said.
Why wouldn't meat eaters embrace the gourmet restaurant inside the upscale hotel and spa in Darien Center?
Well, there's no meat served at Minty Wellness. It's an entirely vegan and raw food establishment.
Since opening last May, more and more local residents have been discovering Minty Wellness and telling their friends about the food.
"There are so many local people coming," Tyczka said. "We have a group reservation from a local bank. None of them are vegan. They just heard it’s a nice place and the food is good. We’ve taken the vegan menu past granola and beans. We try to do a little gourmet and it’s working well.”
The story of Minty Wellness begins more than three years ago at a raw food seminar in Maine. There, Tyczka met Mary Minihane, who makes her home in Ireland. The two women struck up a friendship and Mary suggested opening a vegan and raw food resort.
Her initial idea was to open it in Costa Rica, but after the women travelled there they couldn't find a suitable location, so Minihane started looking in California and Arizona. Then she sent Tyczka information on property in the Poconos.
At that point, Tyczka said, "Hey, what about my place."
Tyczka and her husband David own 100 wooded acres in Darien. Minihane researched the market, liked its proximity to Buffalo, Rochester and Toronto, and agreed to back the construction of the facility.
The entire hotel, spa and restaurant are brand-new from the ground up. The eight hotel rooms are each unique, though the entire decor of the hotel is sleek contemporary with a touch of retro modern. The spare, uncluttered environment inside is immediately relaxing, which Tyczka said was the goal all along.
"I'm all about environment," Tyczka said. "It doesn't matter where I go, I want to be in a nice environment. We didn't just want to have a vegan hotel and just plain rooms. We wanted that experience to carry up into the rooms so people would be like, 'I can't wait to get to my room.'"
Some of what the spa offers includes Swedish massage, hot stone massage, soothing soak, Vichy massage and colon hydrotherapy. Laura Koepp is also on staff to offer Naturopathic therapy.
For those looking for an overnight or longer retreat, besides relaxing in the hotel, there are four golf courses within 15 minutes, plus nearby Darien Lake, as well as the wood areas for hikes or snowshoeing.
Overnight stays include a vegan breakfast.
As for the lunch and dinner menu, it features such delectable-sounding dishes Cajun Mayo Avocado, Linguini Alfredo, Tomato Dill Nori Roll and a vegan taco dubbed the "best taco ever."
"It's awesome to be acknowledged by the locals," Tyczka said. "It's one thing to pull people from Rochester, Buffalo and Toronto, but to be recognized by local people is just a really gratifying thing."