GRAMERCY — Popular gourmet grocery chain Garden of Eden has partnered with a restaurant to bring a surfer-inspired burrito joint to Gramercy this fall.
Garden of Eden is joining forces with the burrito restaurant Shaka, which currently has one location in Long Branch, New Jersey. Together they'll open Shaka's first location in the city at 210 E. 23rd St., the owners said.
"Garden of Eden was born in Gramercy and we are happy to be returning to the neighborhood with a new concept,” said Mustafa Coskun, president and CEO of Garden of Eden. “Shaka Burrito’s eco-friendly model as well as health conscious menu are consistent with our beliefs.”
Shaka’s burritos, tacos and quesadillas are made with natural, locally-sourced and seasonal ingredients. The chicken, for example, is sourced from a farm in Pennsylvania and carries no hormones or preservatives, said Phil Sciortino, the restaurant's founder.
In addition, all the tableware, and even some of the restaurant’s furniture, is made from recycled wood or biodegradable materials, Sciortino said.
Shaka's earth-friendly vibe fits well with Garden of Eden's image, which tries to appeal to foodies with high quality produce and carefully chosen international products.
“If you were to think of Garden of Eden opening a restaurant with a surfer theme, this is what it would be,” he said. “Really, really healthy stuff.”
The restaurant will also serve Hawaiian shaved ice, salads and its signature "acai bowl," a smoothie dessert with acai berries, strawberries, banana, honey and granola, he added.
Shaka was born from Sciortino's dream of bringing the North Shore of Hawaii back to his hometown, said Sciortino, a 46-year-old surfer and Jersey Shore native.
"Shaka" is the name of a greeting gesture associated with Hawaii and surfing, he explained. It's also known as the "hang loose" sign.
“It was always my dream to go to Hawaii,” said Sciortino, 46. “I finally got to go about six or seven years ago, and I was just overtaken by the aloha spirit. I thought, we have to do this in New Jersey.”
Sciortino opened Shaka in Long Branch in 2009. About three years later, Garden of Eden approached the business with an offer to buy, explained Sciortino.
Garden of Eden is looking to open additional Shaka locations in the city, including a spot on 42nd Street, between Eighth and Ninth avenues, he said.
“We look forward to opening our first location in the city by the end of the summer with more Manhattan locations to follow,” said Coskun.
The Gramercy location was chosen for its proximity to the School of Visual Arts and the NYU dormitory, Gramercy Green, said Sciorintino.
“We're shooting to open by the end of August, just in time for kids to go back to school,” he said.