The Hippy Chick From Urbana Knows Her Hummus

Photo | Marylou Bono Urbana High alum Erika Brown, Class of 2008, just celebrated the third anniversary of Hippy Chick Hummus, her Downtown Frederick vegan café and draft kombucha bar.

Photo | Marylou Bono
Urbana High alum Erika Brown, Class of 2008, just celebrated the third anniversary of Hippy Chick Hummus, her Downtown Frederick vegan café and draft kombucha bar.

I was well into a satisfying Buddha bowl at one of the small tables by the bay window at Hippy Chick Hummus when the owner, Erika Brown, came in to sit down and chat. Baby greens, curried quinoa, chickpeas, red onion, baby grape tomatoes, garlic hummus and the secret lemon tahini dressing … a bowl of healthy deliciousness to feed your inner flower child! That’s what is promised at the vegan cafe and draft kombucha bar that celebrated its third year on Market Street in Downtown Frederick on May 15.

Hippy Chick is the creation of Urbana native Erika Brown, who said the idea grew as she started whipping up hummus for friends in her college kitchen. She had always loved hummus as a quick snack and pick-me-up and began creating unexpected flavors like coconut curry, everything bagel and chipotle, which remain the most popular flavors at the cafe.

Brown graduated from Urbana High School in 2008 and went on to Frederick Community College and then Towson. After graduation, she began selling hummus at the Frederick City Market and her success led her to a search for a place to call her own. “Sometimes I made just enough to get by,” she said, “but I always knew it was my calling.”

She found the little place at 237 N. Market Street, fell in love with the contractor who built it out, and said she’s grateful every day for the journey that led her to where she is today. It is a warm and casual spot with a window seat, small tables and a bar. A book nook and local artwork fill in the spaces.

The busy staff of college women bustle in the small kitchen to prepare the bowls, wraps and salads that dominate the menu. I watched as they made buffalo cauliflower tacos. Three flavors of hummus are featured each day as well as a soup and flatbread of the day. Locally brewed draft kombucha, a probiotic-rich, fermented tea with a natural carbonated fizz, is on tap. Brown said it is rich in vitamins and minerals as well as B12, which vegans can be
low in. “It heals your gut,” she said, and is sold to her wholesale by a lady from Thurmont. “It comes in seasonal flavors, and we sell about 10 kegs a week.”

Over the past three years, experience has taught her that, “It’s OK not to know—you can outsource. In the beginning you have to get through on your own, master difficult things in business like doing your own marketing, accounting and employee management.” One of the more difficult hurdles was managing employees close to her own age. “I still need to fulfill my role as their boss,” she emphasized. She is guided by her intuition, and it has paid off.

Brown enjoys being part of the community in Frederick and extending her Urbana roots. She was the winner of the car given away by Stup’s Garage during UHS’ Safe & Sane graduation program in 2008. “It was an awesome car,” she said. “It helped me get to college. I was so grateful when they asked me to donate to the program.”

The cafe is open until 7 p.m. during the warmer months with an outside patio around the side of the building. Due to the limited kitchen and refrigeration space, food frequently runs out if she stays open past 7 p.m. and she doesn’t want to disappoint customers.

A new addition is a freestanding refrigerator with meals to go. “It is a lot of work and I always want to stay happy. I don’t want to do too much to make that not happen,” she said. “Any time I make extra money, it goes back into the business. I want to make this the best version of itself that it can be—and then more to come!”

Visit www.hippychickhummus.com or the Facebook page for a peek before you visit.

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