LOWER EAST SIDE — Organic "superfoods" and cold-pressed juices have arrived on the eastern end of Rivington Street — and local residents are excited to have a healthier option nearby, the owner of a new deli said.
Healthy Creations opened at Rivington and Pitt streets last month, offering wholesome options including a juice, salad and nut bar, gluten-free breads and shelves of organic products, instead of the usual greasy deli fare.
"The main response I get [from customers] is, 'We are so glad you are here,'" said Izzy Zindani, 32, a second-generation deli operator who is a part owner in Healthy Creations, along with his family. "The second response is, 'This neighborhood needed this.'"
Customers have been so enthusiastic about Healthy Creations that Zindani has been flooded with suggestions for new health products and foods that meet residents' dietary restrictions, as well as requests for a machine that would allow the deli to accept food stamps.
After opening in the first week of October, Healthy Creations added items including organic almond butter, coconut milk ice cream and white mulberries, all based on requests from customers, Zindani said.
"I suggested the while mulberries," said Health Creations customer Hector Codero, 40, a real estate broker who grew up on the Lower East Side.
Codero said he first saw the berries on TV show "Dr. Oz," where they were said to reduce the body's absorption of sugar.
"[The store] is a great thing to have in the neighborhood," said Codero, who picked up some dragon fruit and 10 ounces of pure Acai juice recently. "What is the closest thing to it — Whole Foods?"
"I'm 40 now and I have a daughter to think about," he added, explaining why he wants to stay healthy.
Customers have also requested an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) machine, which would allow those who use food stamps to shop at the store.
"A lot of these people do have food stamps and want to buy [these products], but at the moment they can't," Zindani said. He is working on getting an EBT machine within the next two to three months.
Zindani said he works to keep prices as low as he can, with a 16-ounce cold-pressed juice made on the spot from mostly organic fruit going for $5, several dollars less than they would cost at local cafes like Liquiteria.
Zindani first saw how a healthy deli could operate when he was 17 and worked on the Upper West Side, "where the health community was," Zindani said.
"I was always intrigued by that — their shot of wheatgrass, their oatmeal instead of egg, bacon and cheese," Zindani said. "I thought, let's give the community here something they could feel healthy about."
Zindani's family owns the more traditional New York Grill and Deli two doors down, but Zindani said he wanted to open a store that would provide more nutritious choices. He was also motivated by his own efforts to get in shape, after struggling with his weight and being nicknamed "Penguin" as a teenager.
"I really had to change my ways," he said, recalling that he used to eat junk food from the shelves while helping his father at the family's first deli near the South Street Seaport.
"As a parent, I would rather you give your kid a quarter pound of almonds than a greasy pack of potato chips," he said.