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Hello Sun In Bloom, Goodbye Organic Heights

Hold on to your avocados, guys — Bergen Street in Park Slope is about to get even better. Vegetarian restaurant and vegan bakery Organic Heights will close this Thursday, December 31 (sad!) and reopen as Sun In Bloom on Saturday, January 2 (exciting!). Captains of the new ship are Aimee Follette, Tony Lastella, and former SproutCraft co-owner Eric Levinson (whom you might remember as the dude lavishing us with his raw vegan cheese at Vegan Drinks a few months back). My delicate heart skipped a beat when I realized SIB’s new address is the same as Organic Heights’s addy, so I spoke with Eric to learn about the new menu, hours, pricing, and most important, WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE TEMPEH REUBEN?

The menu, designed by Eric and spruced up by his partners, will feature living, organic, vegan fare, and raw, gluten-free breads and desserts, not straying too far from Organic Heights owner Mark Zumoff’s vision for his own restaurant. The juices will stay, and SIB’s Norwalk Press juicer, which the owners expect to provide better quality, less oxygenated juice, is new to the spot. Eric says the spiffy new juicer will enable SIB to offer bottled juices and nut milks “for grab-and-go customers, to serve the morning commuting crowd as well as the stroller mafia.”

Bottled fresh juice is one of a few planned conveniences. “We’re also looking to create a membership program where people can order entire meals for their family and pick up dinner after work, dessert, breakfast, and lunch to bring to work the next day, all in one stop. We want to make this kind of lifestyle more accessible, more available, and more fun,” Eric said.

So here’s the million-dollar question: will it be 100 percent vegan? “We haven’t decided whether to serve milk,” Eric said. “It’s one thing to stick to your guns and your ideals, but if only one customer out of 10 wants almond milk, you have to kind of watch out for the bottom line. It’s such a small thing to do, to just have that one pitcher of milk out there. We’ll offer a good quality milk from a nice, organic, small farmer.”

By way of comparison, Organic Heights offers milk for their coffee now. But on the other hand, we know there are other restaurants — Candle, Blossom, Peacefood Cafe, to name a few — that don’t offer any animal products and seem to do just fine. Why not Sun In Bloom? “We’re basing it off of what we were told by the current owners,” Eric said. “They had such a high percentage of people coming in demanding regular milk that they would have been shooting themselves in the foot not to just have it. It’s all about weighing the positives and the negatives. Maybe someone’ll come in and have regular milk, but they might also grab a vegan muffin where they could have been going around the corner and getting a regular muffin with cream and butter and refined sugar. We want to keep the dialogue rolling.” But if no one’s drinking the dairy milk, it goes. “It’s our hope that we can eliminate it.” Yeah, ours too.

Now, the billion-dollar question: Will you, SIB, let perfection alone and not screw with our tempeh reuben, please? (Seriously, people LOVE this thing.) Eric said there will be a tempeh reuben on the menu, but not the very same because they didn’t buy Organic Heights’s recipes. Replacing Organic Heights’s Russian dressing, sauerkraut, and sourdough rye will be SIB’s house-made Russian dressing and sauerkraut and sprouted grain bread. I think I can live with those changes. I don’t know. I’ll let you know.

Prices will be comparable to those at Organic Heights, if not slightly cheaper. Tentative hours are 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily. They are accepting applications, my income-seeking friends.

Opening day is Saturday and VEGAN BRUNCH WILL BE SERVED. In my mind I’m already there, eating Eric’s cinnamon buckwheat toast with homemade jam. In reality, I will be there Saturday, crack of noon. WHO’S WITH ME?

UPDATE: Sun In Bloom is now in our restaurant guide. If you’ve been, leave a review!

5 Comments

  1. Comment by

    geminiimatt

    on #

    i think it’s time to vote with my dollar! and i vote Organic Heights!!! um…i mean, Sun In Bloom! :)

  2. Comment by

    blessedmama

    on #

    Wow, how’s that! I’m a brand new member, and I’m in Sacramento, California. What a fun blog! If only I could just reach my leg over the continent… Oh, well. I’ll read about all the good vegan joints vicariously. Thanks for doing this!

  3. Comment by

    Sam C

    on #

    Matt– Come to brunch Saturday!

    blessedmama– Welcome!

  4. Comment by

    veganed

    on #

    So this owner will stick to his “ideals” but only if it doesn’t effect his “bottom line”??? Under that logic he may as well serve meat, fish, and eggs too (these products have certainly proved themselves to profitable). The idea that family farmed cow’s milk is somehow ethical is a joke…small farmers separate male calves from their mothers and sell them as veal just like their big agribusiness counterparts at the factory farm. No dairy farmers small or big have retirement plans for older cows whose production wanes…they all sell them for low grade hamburger meat. Just because someone buys a vegan muffin doesn’t justify selling them cow’s milk along with it. There are so many alternatives to cow’s milk and many restaurants profiting without selling it. Support business owners who believe in veganism (Candle, Blossom, Lulas, V Spot, etc.) and let the rest cater to omnivores.

  5. Comment by

    Eric

    on #

    what is a “vegan?” someone who abstains from consuming and using animal products, right? is that even possible in this country, where EVERYTHING is grown with manure or chemical fertilizer (made from natural gas, the harvesting of which can be devastating to eco-systems)?

    it’s rather hypocritical, self-righteous, and arrogant to go around claiming to be living this “guilt-free” existence, while actually depending very much on the use of animals to maintain that same existence.

    unless you are growing everything you eat yourself with compost or buying exclusively from a farmer using veganic methods, you depend on animals to fertilize your food either directly or by having their habitats destroyed to harvest natural gas or by the runoff from over-fertilized crops. you also depend on oppressed migrant workers to harvest your food, which is just as much of a concern for me when i choose to buy local from small farms. not to mention all of the displaced wildlife that are victimized by your selfish desire to eat ANYTHING! do you have any idea what kind of acreage is required to produce soy beans? how about that cotton t-shirt with a catchy pro-vegan slogan?

    i’ve been vegan for over 5 years, and trust me your approach to promoting a plant-based diet is not effective. my goal is to get as many people as possible AT LEAST INTERESTED in the benefits of a plant-based diet by opening up an honest and compassionate dialogue. beginning a conversation the way you do, as if it’s “all-or-nothing, and i’m right and you’re wrong” is a huge turn-off and most people will just ignore you. if you’re just preaching to the choir, you’re not helping the cause either.

    now, if you were to think rationally about this, you’d realize that boycotting a vegan restaurant because they provide milk for people to put in their coffee while recommending they use their homemade organic raw sprouted almond milk instead and teaching its benefits over dairy is what some might call “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

    it’s time vegans move the conversation away from “i’m good and you’re bad” and into the realm of true compassion. people that eat meat and dairy are not our enemies, they are real people and perhaps just lack the knowledge and skills necessary to make healthier lifestyle choices. it’s up to us to lead by example and show the world that a plant-based diet is fun, easy, and improves our lives. i hope you’ll reconsider not supporting us in the future.

    thanks,
    eric

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