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!