Heading out to a restaurant or bar in New York City just got a lot more exciting for vegans. Ravi DeRossi, the restaurateur behind Avant Garden and Death and Co., says he’s turning his 15 NYC-based bars and restaurants “as animal-free as possible,” and with more vegan projects in the works, too.
DeRossi’s Mother of Pearl, a tiki bar in the East Village, was the first to drop all animal ingredients last month.
"I’ve been such a strain on society for 40 years now, it’s time for me to be more productive," DeRossi told Eater about his decision to shift away from animal products.
"You don't realize that the average restaurateur does three times more destruction [to the environment] than the average person," DeRossi says. "I have 15 restaurants and bars. It started to weigh on me."
DeRossi may be best known for The Bourgeois Pig, which opened more than a decade ago, and as the name implies, serves animal products including charcuterie, cheese plates, and fondue.
“[B]ut it's the next business he's turning animal-free,” reports Eater. “ In the summer, he's reopening it as a vegan wine and tapas bar called LadyBird as part of his vegan transformation.”
Turning a longstanding successful New York City eatery focused on animal products into a vegan tapas bar is a pretty bold move, but one that DeRossi sees as a natural progression for his commitment to animals and the environment.
Avant Garden is already a vegan establishment doing well for DeRossi, and he’s reportedly going to continue to expand on its success, with a focus on the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, one of the city’s hotspots for vegans. He hopes to create Avant Garden sandwich shops around the city.
"If we're going to do something to help this planet, it needs to start," DeRossi tells Eater. "It needs to be me not just preaching, but me just doing it. I'm in the position to do it."
DeRossi says he’s only going to participate in vegan concept restaurants and bars moving forward, even if they’re not as profitable as other ventures.
"I'm more worried about my conscious and living without the weight on my shoulder of the damage I'm doing," he says, "and the suffering of animals."
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image of Mother of Pearl tiki bar via Sideways NYC