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Couple Aims to Open Acupuncture Clinic with Organic Eatery in Crown Heights

By Amy Zimmer | July 15, 2013 9:19am
 The acupuncture center and seasonal eatery is slated to rise near the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Acupuncture Center and Seasonal Eatery
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BROOKLYN — Come for the acupuncture, stay for the organic risotto baby food.

Thomas McCauley and Justine Lynch — a husband-and-wife team who are also acupuncturists, chefs and artists — spent the last two years growing some big things: their twin daughters and a business plan to open a holistic health center with a seasonal eatery.

Now that their girls are 22 months old, the Prospect-Lefferts Gardens couple felt ready to add a bit more to their plate and turn their vision for their multi-purpose healing center into reality.

They are in lease negotiations for a space on Franklin Avenue — on the border of their neighborhood and Crown Heights — to open Mountain, an acupuncture clinic, Chinese herbal pharmacy, and venue for art and performance. It will also house Apothecary Kitchen, offering meals like mugwort dumplings with lamb and pine nuts, house made Kombucha teas and organic baby food.

“We hope to be a destination spot for the adventurous New Yorker looking for the next amazing secret in Brooklyn,” said McCauley, 55, chef and owner of the West Village’s now-closed Miracle Bar and Grill, who planned to tap his experience as a musician, gardener, beekeeper, surfer and surfboard shaper to build this new venture.

“I don't know of anything else in New York that closely resembles [Mountain/Apothecary Kitchen], although there is a similar model in Chinese culture — a sort of spa or day sanatarium model,” he wrote in an email. “I suspect that there might have been or that there even today is something much like this somewhere in the city's ‘insider's’ Chinatown.”

A Mountain-goer will likely be a “a busy, hardworking [professional] who knows enough to not want to eat out every night, but hasn't the time to cook from scratch at home,” explained Lynch, 42, a former dancer who practices acupuncture and bodywork in a SoHo clinic she shares with her husband.

She also hopes to attract artists to curate shows at the space, or just stressed-out people looking for “sanctuary.”

“These people all might have children who need a healing tea, an organic signature baby food risotto or a lesson in herb gardening and the salads we compose from our rooftop garden,” she added.

The center, in the increasingly trendy area near the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, will serve the gentrifying communities it’s surrounded by, as well as the lower-income families living in the area, the couple said.

They plan to offer a simple, healthy meal each day that “rivals the pricing at the local fast-food restaurant down the block.” Lynch said. They will also have weekly community acupuncture group sessions called Open Bowl Acupuncture, “a pay-as-you-can auricular acupuncture experience beneficial for addiction and stress relief,” she added.

To get Apothecary Kitchen started on what Lynch called a “scary tight” budget, they launched a Kickstarter campaign that ends Friday and has raised slightly more than half of its $22,000 goal.

They were also waiting to hear back from the Small Business Administration on a loan application and will be pouring their savings into Mountain.

The couple hit some roadblocks trying to find a space that was zoned properly, affordable and big enough to hold Mountain, plus room to grow some of the food served at Apothecary Kitchen. One landlord told them flat out, he was “not impressed by our financial portfolio,” Lynch recounted.

Finally, their long search turned up a one-story building with roof rights for a garden.

“We are excited by the irony that we will, if all goes well, be taking over a now abandoned Chinese restaurant,” McCauley said.