If you're vegan and living in the NYC area, you've likely already heard that Red Bamboo Brooklyn will be closing its doors at the end of the year. What you might not know, however, is that it's actually just changing over. In 2010 it will re-open as "Poppa's Place," under the same management and with the same cook, as an omni restaurant. (Disclaimer: I did not take the photograph.)
Why? Steven Brown of the Brooklyn Paper postulates that it's because vegetarianism is "on life support". (I'd love to chat with him about that erroneous idea over brunch or dinner one Saturday at any of the dozens of thriving veg restaurants in the NYC area, but I just get so impatient waiting for a table.) Owner Jason Wong seems to be attributing the switch to a combination of economy troubles and a decline in demand for the processed mock meat fare that has heretofore defined the restaurant's menu.
But it's also personal. Wong has given up his own vegetarianism, and believes his restaurant will do better offering "humane" meat. "I am ready to serve meat," he stated. Well Mr. Wong, I am ready to no longer patronize your restaurant. Maybe reheating soy cutlets from May Wah is not the best business model, but is Happy Meat really the best you can come up with? Did you pause to wonder how so many other restaurants have been able to develop diversified, crowd-pleasing menus without depending on either mock meats or flesh? Meh, no need to worry about it, bring on the dead animals (and the profits)!
According to at least one source, both Red Bamboo locations are owned by Wong, son of Philip and Lulu Wong who in turn own Vegetarian's Paradise 2. The Red Bamboo West Village location will remain vegetarian... for now.
Red Bamboo Brooklyn is having a Closing Party / New Year's Eve celebration on December 31. I, for one, will not be in attendance: to me, even to show up is to give more support than I feel this restaurant owner currently deserves.