By Pam Johnson / Zip06.com • 03/15/2022 10:39 am EST
With “heavy hearts” on March 14, Branford G-Zen founders / owners Chef Mark Shadle and nutritionist Ami Beach announced the restaurant will be closing its doors on April 30, 2022. The Branford location will be closing as part of plans to evolve the restaurant brand “… from sit-down restaurant to a fast-casual dining concept complete with an updated vegan menu,” according to the message. The new concept dining location, G-Monkey® “Plant-Fueled Fast Food.” ™ will open in West Hartford in spring 2022.
“G-Monkey Plant-Fueled Fast food will be an evolution of our two brands, G-Zen in Branford and G-Monkey Mobile, into a fresh, modern and plant-forward fast food restaurant,” the message noted.
The Branford location has been in business at 2 East Main St. for 11 years. Existing gift cards not redeemed by our by April 30, 2022 will be honored at the new location, 625 New Park Avenue, West Hartford; where existing reward points and remaining gift card balances will be transfered and honored.
The following provides the full text of the message shared at the G-Zen website:
One Door Closes, Another Opens. EVOLve with G-Zen: A Heartfelt message from Chef Mark Shadle and Ami Beach
EVOLve with us. We would like to announce that G-Zen is evolving its brand from sit-down restaurant to a fast-casual dining concept complete with an updated vegan menu. While this will mean the closing of G-Zen in Branford on April 30, 2022, we are opening a brick-and-mortar flagship location in West Hartford, Connecticut called G-Monkey® “Plant-Fueled Fast Food.” ™
We believe that food is love
Our original idea to open a vegan restaurant on the shoreline turned into over 11 years of serving the best organic, vegan, sustainable food to patrons in Branford and beyond. Our G-Zen team, led by Master Chef Mark Shadle and Nutritionist and Wellness Warrior Ami Beach, has thoughtfully prepared made-from-scratch food and drink options with tons of heart and soul, not to mention intense passion and dedication.
We have fond memories of hosting free raw, vegan potlucks with many of you, as well as hosting lectures and book signings with Terry Walters, Mimi Kirk, Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman, and many others in the health and wellness world. We also coordinated and hosted an untold number of animal welfare fundraisers and animal sanctuary events, along with eco-conscious fashion shows, live music events, art exhibits, vegan singles nights, and countless other community events.
“We have laughed together and cried together. We have eaten and nurtured our souls together. It is clear to many that G-Zen has always been more than just a restaurant – but an extended family, from our customers, to our dedicated staff. “
To the many couples who used our space to propose marriage, celebrate anniversaries and enjoy birthdays – even a 100th birthday party – we appreciate you. G-Zen has been a home away from home for so many people in the community. To the people who faithfully dined in and called for take out every single week and who would express such gratitude every time they came in, we thank you. You have helped us receive accolades from Travel & Leisure, Shape, Food Network and Lonely Planet magazines, the New York Times, and so many more wonderful media outlets. This support has fueled our continued enthusiasm to promote conscious consumerism while creating a new way of thinking about the future. We are forever grateful to each and every customer, friend, staff, and family member who has supported our vegan mission for more than a decade.
“G-Monkey Plant-Fueled Fast food will be an evolution of our two brands, G-Zen in Branford and G-Monkey Mobile, into a fresh, modern and plant-forward fast food restaurant.”
We heard what many customers were asking for and decided to go back to the simplicity of what we initially created with G-Monkey. Now, we are merging the high-quality, hand-crafted food of G-Zen with the fun and simplicity of G-Monkey Mobile into this new venture, G-Monkey Plant-Fueled Fast Food. The G-Monkey concept was something that we came up with several years before the opening of G-Zen. We can’t believe that now we are actually able to take this dream and make it into a reality!
Many of our tried and true “Cult Classic” and house favorites – from our artisan multigrain breads, to nutritious veggie burgers and bowls, to our famous chili fries, raw tacos, Grilled G, Grilled Reuben and raw desserts – will be served up in this fast casual environment both for dining in and to go. There will be seating for 20 inside, and during the warmer months, 20 seats outside.
Out of the darkness into the light
With the challenges everybody faced over the last two years, we realized that it was a sign to make things more simple, streamlined and more approachable to bring our vision to the next level and thrive, not just survive.
We have always been about SUSTAINABILITY on every level. The size and diversity of our G-Zen menu, complexity of execution and the intense labor involved did not seem sustainable moving forward, especially with sourcing ingredients, supply chain issues, and rising food and labor costs.
We want to make plant-based eating more available to our community. We feel strongly in our hearts that this decision to concentrate on expanding this fast-casual concept is a sustainable business model for the future and we couldn’t be more excited about it. We hope that you are, as well!
Our hope and intention is to come to the shoreline with our G-Monkey Plant-Fueled Fast Food concept in the very near future and a town near you!
Follow our updates and announcement at GMonkeyGlobal.com and on IG using our hashtag #plantfueledfastfood to keep up with our progress.
PS: All existing Gift Cards that have not been redeemed by our last date of dining services in Branford on April 30, 2022 will be honored in our new G-Monkey “Plant-Fueled Fast Food” location at 625 New Park Avenue, West Hartford , opening Spring 2022. (All Toast G-Zen Rewards points and Gift Card balances will also transfer to the new West Hartford location.)
Eat Plants, Live Long
A HUGE THANK YOU to our friends, family, and community alliances! We hope you will continue to support us, follow us, and enjoy delicious vegan food from G-Monkey Mobile and our brick and mortar location, G-Monkey in West Hartford!
It cannot go unmentioned that we are forever in awe of the love and dedication of our G-Zen Dream Team who has been serving, cooking and attending to our guests and community for all these blessed years we have had in Branford. Without our team, we would never have achieved all of the success that we have. We love each and every one of you.
“Holding on is believing that there’s only a past; letting go is knowing that there’s a future”.
~ Deepak Chopra
With love and gratitude,
Mark & Ami and our entire G-Zen Dream Team