'Green & Tonic' branches out to New Canaan
Plant-based, organic, vegan: People looking for a healthy diet that fuels them with more energy should start with those three words, according to Jeffrey Pandolfino.
The opening of Pandolfino's fourth Green & Tonic cafe at 5 Burtis Ave. is his way of helping people eat healthy while enjoying it.
He and wife, Cai, opened their first store in Darien two and a half years ago.
The cafe offers organic cold-pressed juices, smoothies, nutritional cleanse programs, meal plans, as well as a full menu of prepared foods, including salads, wraps and soups, all made fresh daily.
The ingredients are plant-based, or vegan, and much of the organic produce is sourced from local farms and regional artisans.
"We use as much organic produce as possible in our foods and juices," Pandolfino said. "We're always looking for organic and local first."
Pandolfino attributes Green & Tonic's growth to increased demand for organic and locally grown foods.
Pandolfino and his wife launched the Green & Tonic website as a source for healthy foods and juice in in 2009.
In 2012, they opened a location in Darien and Greenwich, and last year, opened another store in Greenwich. They have plans to expand in Westport.
Pandolfino said the competition also is growing, as "everybody's trying to get into the industry," especially in Fairfield County.
"There's a common thread that runs through these towns," he said. "These are highly successful people, affluent, well-educated, and they take their lifestyles seriously. They like to eat right and they understand the relationship that food plays in leading a healthy lifestyle."
Green & Tonic's focus on serving plant-based food and drinks started with the couple's own conversion, as Pandolfino said, to more nutrition-conscious eating.
"We were looking for a way to feel better, a way to get our energy back, and we turned to food to do that," he said.
"We'd been reading a lot about juicing, and we wanted to live kind of a raw, vegan lifestyle, so we started to really experiment with that ourselves, and we really got tremendous results."
The cafe also features kid-friendly snacks and a new breakfast menu that includes oatmeal bowls and granola bowls.
"Think of us as the healthy Starbucks," Pandolfino said. "We're trying to be like the place that you stop into for juice to replace your morning coffee, or if you are drinking coffee, we have that for you as well."
One of the most popular choices at the restaurant is the Green Guru Smoothie, which is made with green tea, coconut water, lemon, spinach, banana, green apple, ginger and mint.
A popular cold-pressed juice is the Green Monster, made with kale, celery, cucumber, apple, spinach, ginger, romaine lettuce, parsley, lemon and spirulina.
Green & Tonic in New Canaan is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information: 203-920-1395 or www.greenandtonic.com.
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