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Uptown Veg Has Been Feeding Harlem for 30 Years. Now, Brooklyn Will get a Style of Its Vegan Meals


For practically 30 years, vegan mainstay Uptown Veg introduced wholesome, plant-based fare to East Harlem, and now, the beloved vegan restaurant is increasing with two new places. Final month, the family-owned and -operated enterprise formally opened Uptown Veg II, a brand new specific location specializing in juices, salads, and to-go orders. Situated lower than a mile from its full-service storefront, Uptown Veg II gives out of doors seating and can broaden the unique menu with vegan brunch choices. 

Uptown Veg may even make its solution to Brooklyn, with a brand new outpost opening in Bedford-Stuyvesant later this summer time. The brand new location will supply the identical menu because the Uptown Veg flagship so hungry Brooklynites can feast on veggie burger wraps, rooster curry, vegetable stir fry, macaroni and cheese, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, and extra. Clients visiting the Brooklyn outpost can even anticipate an out of doors patio and a number of vegan wine and beer. 

“I do know Uptown Veg will probably be welcomed in Brooklyn,” co-owner Jasmine Myrick advised VegNews. “Plenty of our prospects journey from Brooklyn to Harlem to purchase meals for the week. Even the owner is worked up—[local residents] really want a wholesome meals house within the neighborhood.”

Uptown Veg

The borough additionally has private significance to Myrick and her dad, co-owner Davie Simmons. Not solely was Myrick born and raised in Brooklyn, Simmons additionally attended highschool in Bedford-Stuyvesant after his household immigrated to the US from Georgetown, Guyana. 

Uptown Veg brings wholesome vegan meals to Harlem

Based in 1994 by Simmons, Uptown Veg was first established to deliver wholesome vegan meals to East Harlem. Simmons, a long-time vegetarian, typically frequented a neighborhood vegan restaurant for meatless fare, however quickly grew uninterested in the eatery and its lack of consistency, as menu gadgets continually disappeared and reappeared with out discover. Fueled by his wrestle to seek out vegetarian meals and the dearth of wholesome choices in Harlem, Simmons took issues into his personal arms. The entrepreneur discovered himself slinging veggie burgers, lentil and break up pea soups, and juices out of a small, “hole-in-the-wall” storefront. And shortly after, he enlisted the assistance of his then teenage daughter, Myrick.  

Whereas a majority of residents within the surrounding communities weren’t vegan, they expressed real curiosity about Simmons’ menu. Myrick recounts prospects asking in regards to the restaurant’s vegan choices and expressing pleasure when studying in regards to the plant-based substances used. Inside a 12 months, Uptown Veg outgrew its unique location and relocated to the East Harlem flagship that locals—and distinguished figures similar to New York Metropolis mayor Eric Adams and political activist Angela Davis—frequent at this time. 

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Vegan meals for all 

Almost 30 years after first opening in Harlem, Uptown Veg stays steadfast in its dedication to make plant-based meals, and veganism, extra accessible. “My objective for Uptown Veg is to encourage different individuals [to adopt] a vegan way of life,” Myrick mentioned. “Plenty of the time, individuals really feel nervous about being vegan or vegetarian. I at all times have conversations with individuals, and I say, ‘Hear, you’ll be able to take it little by little and actually get to know the meals.’” And the restaurant’s vast number of vegan choices guarantee there’s one thing for everybody—together with vegan meats and ready vegetable dishes by the pound. 

“At Uptown Veg, we actually love to supply every thing, not simply burgers, however full vegan meals. In the event you’re not into soy and seitan, now we have meals ready with simply greens,” Myrick mentioned. “We [want to] deliver others into veganism. It’s nearly consuming more healthy and taking it one step at a time.” Along with increasing Uptown Veg with the brand new places, Myrick goals of a nationwide enlargement of the idea via franchising alternatives. 

Uptown Veg fights starvation 

Whereas native residents and visiting vacationers can rely on Uptown Veg for wholesome vegan fare, Simmons and Myrick take additional care to make sure unhoused neighbors are by no means forgotten. The restaurant’s flagship location is thought for serving the native unhoused group each night time, seven days every week. And such outreach has already begun at Uptown Veg II, with plans to broaden efforts into Bedford-Stuyvesant when its second outpost opens later this summer time. 

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Lately, the variety of unhoused New York Metropolis residents reached the very best degree for the reason that Nice Melancholy. As of March 2022, 48,524 individuals throughout New York Metropolis have been unhoused. 

“After we say we wish to feed the group, we actually imply everybody,” Myrick mentioned. “We feed the unhoused each night time. [We’re not working off of] grants or stipends, that is simply what we do.” 

For the newest vegan information, learn:India Releases Its First Emblem and Requirements for Vegan Meals Merchandise
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Jocelyn Martinez is an Affiliate Editor at VegNews residing in Los Angeles, CA.

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