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Mama Joy's Closes in Bushwick as Ethiopian Pop-Up Bunna Stays in Space

By Meredith Hoffman | November 20, 2013 5:00pm
 Bunna Cafe's vegan Ethiopian food has earned praise. 
Bunna Cafe's vegan Ethiopian food has earned praise. 
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Bunna Cafe

BUSHWICK — The pork belly-cornbread platters, braised beef and fried chicken have bowed out of Bushwick — but the vegan Ethiopian fare is here to to stay.

The Southern-style Mama Joy's restaurant and bar closed this weekend 15 months after opening on Flushing Avenue, but the thriving Ethiopian pop-up Bunna Cafe is continuing to operate there after serving lunch since July. 

"We're like a pop-up in a vacant restaurant," said Bunna's founder Sam Saverance, whose lunches have been praised by local blogs and most recently in a rave New York Times review.  "We're holding our own."

The owner of Mama Joy's didn't respond immediately to emails requesting comment, but Saverance said the eatery had been struggling to attract business in recent months.

Now, he is eyeing the space as a potential permanent home for Bunna, but noted that nothing was set in stone.

"There's a possibility we might stay," said Saverance, who launched Bunna as a secret dinner series. "It's definitely an option."

In the meantime, Bunna is expanding its hours next week with a special Thanksgiving dinner menu featuring dishes with pumpkin, cranberries and other holiday-themed foods — except for turkey.

"We are close to doing big things for Bunna Cafe," he wrote to his fans on Facebook, "and this event will spearhead what is going to be an intense few months ahead."

For more details on Bunna's Thanksgiving offerings, visit the event's Facebook page.