Not another fast food chain: honeygrow coming to Newark
Unsatisfied with his “cubicle job” at a real estate company and in need of a change, Justin Rosenberg contemplated integrating his plant-based diet into a business where customers could enjoy wholesome, delicious ingredients. Rosenberg turned his vision into a reality when he opened honeygrow in 2012. Come this autumn, Newark residents will be able to experience its food.
honeygrow, originally located in Philadelphia, has three other locations in Radnor, Pa., Bala Cynwyd, Pa. and Cherry Hill, N.J. Looking to expand his business, Rosenberg will open restaurants at 58 E. Main Street below the new Tsionas Management apartments as well as in Wilmington, Hoboken, N.J. and at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall.
“We’re barely three years old yet,” Rosenberg says. “And to really be part of the Delaware community, that’s part of our growth story at the infant stage. So to really find success down there and be a part of who we are as we continue to get older—that would be really cool.”
Honeygrow offers organic and locally grown ingredients with house-made sauces and proteins. Patrons can choose to create their own stir fry bowl or salad and customize it to their liking. With sauce options like red coconut curry, lemon-miso-tahini and cherry barbecue, honeygrow offers their customers simple, yet tasty ingredients that go well together.
“It is an eclectic mix,” chief brand officer Jen Denis says. “I think we draw our flavors and inspiration from all parts of the world. There’s Asian influences and Middle Eastern, so I’d definitely like to think we have a good blend of all flavors.”
Besides a kale salad, customers can also enjoy a kale smoothie, incorporating banana, pineapple and mint. To satisfy a sweet tooth, honeygrow serves “honeybars” made with fresh fruit and garnish of choice, topped with local wildflower, buckwheat or clover honey.
As a 2000 alumna and Newark native, Denis says she has seen the “mom and pop” style businesses and restaurants Main Street once offered evolve into a franchise and larger-company-dominated area. Although honeygrow is not a franchise, the restaurant is able to provide high quality ingredients by hand and along with high standards and good organization, the business falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, Denis says.
“We don’t want to come in and sort of steamroll a new place,” Denis says. “We want to become part of the fabric of that neighborhood of that region. We’re not here to just sort of decree our way of eating or our style of food—we want to become part of the landscape.”
honeygrow uses a touchscreen interface for orders. This lends its flexibility to custom meals without the pressure of an assembly-line-style food place. Because of its location, it is a great place for students to go in between classes at any time of the day, Denis says.
Until its official opening in the fall, Rosenberg says he hopes the company thrives in Newark as it has at his other locations.
“I just hope that our guests can connect with what we do and our team can connect with what they do and they get something out of working for us,” he says. “It’s just common sense that if you take care of your team and if you take care of your guests—everything else should fall into place. If I can grow a business through that model, I’d be very happy.”