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Friday, January 08, 2016

Choices Organic Cafe is made for Coconut Grove

It's getting exciting around Coconut Grove with all of the new restaurants opening. I had gone to check out Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli's new Glass & Vine restaurant at the Glass House; they seem to have quite a bit of work to be completed by mid-month, which is supposedly their opening plan. They were putting in counters this week; it appears as if a long bar will be at the east end and a large counter opposite that and most of the seating will most likely be outside on the veranda, which has been newly renovated with pavers. But as I left that construction site, I ended up across the street at the old Masonic temple, you know, that place that used to house clubs, like Flavour.

I met with Lori Zito, co-owner and president of Choices, the new organic cafe opening up on McFarlane Road in the former church location. Lori is partners with Jason Stephens and Ken O'Keefe.

I didn't realize how large the space is. She told me it's 3500 square feet. The place is basically ready to open, they are just waiting for sign off from the City, which always seems to take forever. They are hoping for a February 1 opening.

There are lots of tables inside, maybe 15 to 20 and there's a large deck out front which can hold the same amount. At one side of the restaurant, maybe half the space, there will be a bakery and market. They will bake their own items right on site, including their own delicious dairy-free cheesecake along with bread and other baked goods.  Lori showed me the brand new kitchen, ovens, etc. This is the first Choices that they built out from scratch, in the past they retrofitted previous restaurants in Coral Gables, the Upper East Side and near the airport, and of course, their first location off of Brickell and Coral Way.

So the restaurant is brand new, clean and bright. The kitchen is sparkling chrome, there's a large freezer and cooler, stove, ovens, the works . . . The front counter will offer a view of all the food and fixin's, sort of like you see at Subway sandwich shops.

They are centered around a business founded on the principle that better eating leads to healthier individuals and an improved society.

If you are familiar with Choices, you know that the food is plant-based, organic and 99% gluten-free and dairy free; and breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served seven days a week.

Cold press juices will be available and of course all of the menu you have come to love, plus much more that you won't find at the other locations. 95% of the food is grown without pesticides.

The great part about Choices, is that their customers are all types, by that I mean, it's not just vegans who fill the restaurant; even meat eaters love the food and enjoy it for a change. Choices Cafe prides itself on offering fusion versions of things like pizza, burgers, sandwiches and salads. They are known for their mushroom quesadillas, Nori seaweed wraps and exotic meals that embrace the Latin American culture through spices; Indian and Asian flavors also are part of the menu.

We stopped by Om, the Yoga Studio that will fill the 3500 square feet upstairs, that's amazing, too.  A lot of the original craftsmanship can be seen, which has been saved. I think the last time I was up there, it was a club, and quite dark; now it is white and bright. Both businesses are waiting for city approval to open, but they are ready.

Choices has some great company on that end of town including Peacock Garden Cafe, Glass & Vine and Harry's Pizzeria. 

The Choices menu is quite large, this is what they serve at their other locations now, but the menu will be expanded for the Coconut Grove location.  I tell the story of being in Choices on Coral Way a few years ago and as we ate lunch, pitching Coconut Grove as a great Choices location to the owners. I like to think my friend Sandi and I put a bug in their ears at that time.

Choices is located at 2895 McFarlane Road. We'll keep you posted about opening day.

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Anonymous Jack said...

Tom, Thanks for another informative article about what is happening in the Grove

January 08, 2016 8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. That is a huge space. I hope they got a good deal, because it's going to take a lot of volume of business to cover costs for that kind of space.

January 08, 2016 3:25 PM  
Blogger Alexandria Guerra said...

I cannot wait - I think it's such a great idea for Choices to open in the area. The grove could definitely use more quick, healthy lunch places. I love The Last Carrot and The Bookstore but, Choices definitely offers a refreshing selection of cuisine including "choices" for vegans and vegetarians. I am by no means any of those and I have to say their walnut meat is crazy delicious.

January 11, 2016 2:05 AM  

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