Oasis Jimma Juice Bar has moved to 3163 Broadway, New York, NY 10027. As we enjoyed a nutritious quinoa and vegetable bowl and a "Times Square" smoothie, Abdusalam, the owner of Oasis, was kind enough to sit down with the Manhattan Sideways team and share his story. He was born in Ethiopia, “the birthplace of coffee, ” and grew up on his family’s farm. His view of food as essential to health was shaped early on by his parents, as his father had a holistic clinic that used what their farm produced to help the community and provide adequate nutrition. His mother would cook for the visiting patients, and she taught Abdusalam to do the same — even though it was uncommon for boys to learn to cook in Ethiopia. After his father’s passing, Abdusalam left home at 14 and entered the mining industry to make a living. It was quite a change from his upbringing, he confessed, since he went from a farm where food was fresh and readily available to an area where both food and water were scarce. In retrospect, he realized that this is where his troubles with nutrition began, as it was the first in a long string of environments where he had little to no access to healthy foods. Even so, he drew on his mother’s teachings and chose to become the cook for the other miners. He retained this position until the outbreak of war forced him to flee the country and join a refugee camp in Kenya, which suffered from a scarcity of resources. It was during his stay at the camp that he was diagnosed with diabetes, a condition that played a large role in reshaping his understanding of food. Abdusalam faced many trials upon emigrating to the US in 2004. When he arrived in Harlem, he was broke and did not speak any English. Language was not the only new element he had to adapt to: he was astonished by American food. Living in refugee camps and traveling across the Middle East left him malnourished, and he admitted that, “supermarkets looked like heaven to me. ” But the most shocking aspect for him was not the abundance of food, but rather its high fat content and overly processed nature. “I didn’t know food was unsafe. In my country, food is safe, and if we don’t have it, we don’t have it. ” He was struggling to provide for himself and his family by working three jobs, so fast food and other cheap, unhealthy options were the most convenient for him. With time, he developed increasing health complications as a result of his poor diet, heavy workload and diabetes. To combat these, he began researching nutrition and wellness, which eventually led to the decision to eliminate all processed foods from his diet. He quickly saw what a positive impact this made for him and his overall wellbeing. These results motivated Abdusalam to open his first juice store on 125th Street in November 2012, where he could impart his philosophy about food to others. “It’s not about business for me, it’s about sharing my idea that food should be good, affordable, healthy and delicious. ” To aid in this goal, the walls of his shop are covered in facts about food and tips for healthy eating. Since its opening, according to Abdusalam, Oasis Jimma Juice Bar has become one of the top five juice bars in the city. Inspired by this success, in 2017 he opened another location on 139th Street, in his own neighborhood, to continue providing Harlem with access to better options. His passion for his mission was obvious. “People should learn about food — how to eat, how to cook, how to buy, ” he insisted. When we visited during the summer of 2017, Abdusalam told us that he was in the process of opening the Oasis Power House on 139th Street. His plan is for this to function as a “no judgment zone” where people will be encouraged to teach their particular talents and passions to anyone who wants to learn them. He envisions it as a space where those who are seeking meaning and purpose in their lives can find it by sharing what they love with others, be it piano lessons, arts and crafts, writing, or any other skill. Abdusalam hopes to continue giving back to Harlem, his adopted community, by sharing his story and ensuring that others can learn from and be inspired by his life experiences.
René Henricks, a longtime inhabitant of the East Village, feels fortunate to have spent decades being able to walk to work. After spending time as a bartender at a Latin American restaurant on East 1st Street, she eventually took over the small space across the way to give her something to do between shifts. The kiosk had undergone many transformations since the 1930s, first as a shoeshine stand, then a newspaper stall, a flower shop, and even a front for a marijuana dealer, before it became Juicy Lucy Juice Bar. Three years later, René opened a second location on the avenue to attract more customers. All of the drinks and açaí bowls are made in small batches on the spot using produce that is delivered daily. “You can’t get fresher juice anywhere else unless you make it yourself, ” René asserted. As such, her regulars continue to return for both the delicious juices and the relaxed, friendly atmosphere that pervades Juicy Lucy. “I have been lucky to watch the progression of families here. ” The kiosk holds sentimental value for many who are accustomed to visiting Juicy Lucy or passing by its corner spot every day. “The East Village has afforded me a nice lifestyle. I’m really grateful to it. ”
Naturopathica is a one-stop shop for healing and wellness. The modern, uncluttered storefront on 26th Street contains a vitality bar where customers can purchase tonics, elixirs, tinctures, teas, and cold-pressed juices – as well as simple coffee and specialty hot drinks including spiced hot chocolate, matcha lattes, and coconut kava lattes. Each blend serves a purpose, whether it is to aid with healthy, clear skin, balance natural immunity, or ease stress or joint pain. And there is a lot of room for customization: for instance, kombucha, coconut water, and any juice can be combined with a herbal tincture and a vitality shot. On the other side of the store, there are shelves of Naturopathica’s various skin care products and remedies. The back wall, the “Remedy Bar, ” has jars of loose tea for visitors who wish to continue their road to wellness at home. As Heather Neufeld, the spa director of the Chelsea location, pointed out, Naturopathica has a “360 degree approach to wellness. ”As we were walking through the space, Heather shared a bit of background on Barbara Close, the founder and CEO. After being trained in aromatherapy, Barbara decided to create skincare and herbal remedies to reduce inflammation in the body and skin. She got her start in the mid-1990s and has since gained a reputation in the wellness and lifestyle world, thanks in part to attention from celebrities, notably Martha Stewart. Her methods involve products that work with the body’s natural processes rather than against them. She opened her first Healing Arts Center in East Hampton and has had her products carried in over 450 renowned resort and day spas in North America. Heather spoke about the East Hampton center, mentioning that it “speaks to the heritage of the brand. ” Enter the Manhattan store, which opened in December 2015: the new, twenty-first century base for Naturopathica. The Vitality Bar is one of their new features, and Heather says that it has been a wonder for introducing people to the brand. “There’s a discovery point for everyone, no matter where you are on your wellness journey. ” Even those who just come in for a coffee and decide to try dandelion root tea instead have been aided by Naturopathica. After all, “Your gut has so much to do with your overall health. ” What many people do not realize upon their initial visit, myself included, is that Naturopathica is much larger than it appears. Walking through a door in the back, I discovered numerous treatment rooms. Each one was decorated with their signature blue, with some rooms containing "seperatory funnels" filled with colorful oils. In addition to the six rooms, there is a consultation area where therapists can have private conversations and share their thoughtful cards that give clients a step-by-step list of instructions. Around the corner, a calming meditation center was situated, with a peaceful projection of a night sky in the woods. The projected photography evolves, but the softly glowing candles and variety of mats and low seats remain constant. As Heather led me back to the front, she assured me, “We practice what we preach. ” Her enthusiasm for the culture that Barbara has created was apparent. “Everything is mindfully created. ”
Who doesn’t love a good, healthy smoothie? Fresh from Hell, a very cleverly named Hell’s Kitchen health food restaurant, serves them up, well, fresh. Founded in 2016, this bustling local favorite is known for its acai bowls, smoothies, and sandwiches. From wittily-titled favorites like the Hell’s Kitchen Sink - an acai bowl featuring chia, peanut butter, and granola - to can’t-go-wrong classics like the ham and swiss sandwich, this side street treasure has something for everyone. According to Jorge, the manager, Fresh from Hell was established with one simple goal: “to serve healthy food. ” That goal has clearly been met. Multi-grain bread is always an option, and specials for vegan or gluten-free customers are some of the favorites. Even the Chocolate Lover acai bowl could be considered health food! Fresh from Hell gets its name from the neighborhood and the dedication to serving fresh food. Jorge stresses that “everything is fresh. ” While many similar restaurants pre-make and refrigerate their sandwiches, at Fresh from Hell, “all the sandwiches are made when the customers order. ” Walking into the shop on a hot summer day, I immediately cooled down, and as I soaked in the smell of fresh food and the sounds of the customers talking, I couldn’t help but notice how dedicated and efficient the kitchen staff was. With delicate speed and expert craftsmanship, each bowl, sandwich, and smoothie came out looking perfect, and the smiles on the customers’ faces were a testament to the food's taste and quality.
The first time Amelia stepped inside Kavasutra, New York City’s first Kava bar, it was well after midnight. Although I had described it to her as best I could, she was unsure what to expect. Despite the hour, it was crowded, with a few patrons hanging out on the benches in front of the shop. The bartender welcomed her as she came in, as did many of the people that were already laughing and singing along to the music playing loudly from an overhead speaker. He explained that it was just about time for the “one a. m. slam, ” the time of night at Kavasutra when single Kava shots are only one dollar. Amelia ordered one and watched as everyone else scrambled to get in their orders before the clock struck one. The Kava shell came to her, a small black bowl filled with what looks like murky water and garnished with a slice of pineapple. At one a. m., the bartender lifted his hand in the air. “Everyone ready? ” he said as the crowd joined him in raising up their Kava shells. Amelia followed suit and the bartender began to count down from three. As Amelia described the event to me, "We all raised the shells to our mouths and downed our kava shots, and then a loud cheer rose up from the bar. "Kava is a root, ground and mixed with water, that is traditionally drunk on the island of Vanuatu in the South Pacific. Over the years, it has grown in popularity in the Western World. In addition to its first location in Manhattan on 10th Street, Kavasutra has multiple bars in Florida and one in Denver, Colorado. According to Kavasutra’s website, Kava is a safe alternative to alcohol, which gives one a calming feeling without the mentally incapacitating effects of other substances. I first discovered the cafe/bar on a Saturday afternoon. My husband was eager to give Kava a try. I had a quick taste, but, like many, did not find it appealing. However, my husband persevered. Both the guys behind the bar and those sitting around it said that it does not go down easily, but is well worth the effort. A seasoned veteran at the bar explained what to expect from our first experience. “It’ll just mellow you out, ” he said. Exactly how it was described to us is how my husband felt. "It definitely gave me a bit of a high sensation, " he said. When I asked Amelia how it was for her, she told me, "I had a slight tingling numbness on my lips and throat, then a feeling of calm and clarity pervaded my senses. " Both concurred that this lasted for several hours.