May 29th 2023
PLANTA Revolution: Meet the Vegan Restaurant GM BY Julie Gebhardt
Are you ready to take your taste buds for a ride? Ready to step outside your culinary comfort zone? Look no further than PLANTA in West Palm Beach, Florida, a 100% vegan and plant-based dining experience that is focused on changing the way South Florida thinks about food, health, and environmental responsibility.
General manager Mike Cicciarella makes sure this mission is carried out. Mike began at PLANTA this past February and has been instrumental in making the restaurant even more of a success in just the short time he has been there. In addition to overseeing all day-to- day operations including hiring, training, scheduling, budgeting, and guest relations, he also teaches employees the importance of being vegan and plant-based as it relates to PLANTA’s vision and mission statement. Since becoming part of the PLANTA family, he has helped the location uphold the brand’s core values of a guest-first mentality by creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for the customer and his team, and believes that vegan cuisine has the power to bring people together.
He is creating a culture of inclusion and education that welcomes all, regardless of their dietary preferences, where everyone feels comfortable and enjoys dining as it should be; as an unguilty pleasure. Whether vegan, vegetarian, or just curious, people are at the heart of PLANTA. His passion for PLANTA’s patrons combined with his expertise for plant-based and vegan cuisine has already earned him a stellar reputation as an exceptional general manager who not surprisingly, boasts of an impressive culinary portfolio.
In the industry for 27 years, Mike grew up in an Italian family and began his culinary journey at the age of 16 when he started as a host at a Ruby Tuesday’s in Massachusetts. As he climbed the ranks, he was told he was a natural; he loved the energy, the vibe, and the environment of the restaurant world. Always challenging himself to become more innovative, to learn something new, develop new skills, and gain an even more precise attention to detail. When Mike turned 40, he weighed his heaviest at 385 lbs. He was a heavy meat-eater, he had health issues, he was going through some personal challenges, so it was then that he decided it was time to make a change. In October of 2020 he moved to Florida, incorporated more plant-based meals into his diet, and began his personal journey.
Although this journey began as a choice based on his health, he saw the benefits and improvements as well, and began to feel better both physically and mentally. He had more energy, he felt more connected with his food and the planet, he was able to connect with like-minded people who shared his values and principles, his passion for the vegan lifestyle, and its impact on the planet.
Today Mike is not only a lean-machine, but an exemplary human being, a dedicated vegan, an inspiration, and talented general manager. His personal commitment to ethical and sustainable practices is not just good for the planet and for diners’ health; it’s also good for business. He reflects PLANTA’s ethos, dedicated to putting people first, dedicated to environmental sustainability, and dedicated to building up a successful plant-based vegan restaurant in a competitive industry that will play an important role in this movement, by providing flavorful proof that the power of plants can change not just South Florida, but the world.