After spending nearly 17 years as a celebrity hair stylist in New York City, Burlington native Justin Cruz returned to his hometown and opened a salon. Salon Cruz moved from a short-lived Main Street location to 688 Pine Street, where its owner also opened Eco Bean + Juice. Since November 2012, Cruz's vegetarian and vegan café, right next to his salon, has been fueling the community with organic, non-GMO and mostly local fare. Now, four years into the food biz, Cruz is set to open a second Eco Bean + Juice at Dorset Street's Blue Mall in South Burlington.
The new Eco Bean, opening in late October, will maintain the first one's focus while, says Cruz, "upping it" in terms of the menu. That means animal protein for those who want to add organic chicken to the Smashed Chickpea Salad, and an array of bottled juices for those too busy to order at the counter. A chopped-salad station will have build-your-own toppings ranging from sprouted nuts to toasted nori to avocado to goji berries to homemade almond croutons. Bellies will be warmed by made-to-order grain bowls, hot tonics and up to six daily-made soups, such as bone broth.
"The new spot is definitely more food heavy," Cruz says. "And it has a different vibe; while the first location is industrial and minimalistic, this second place will have wood floors, warm lighting ... very inviting to stay and sit."
What won't change, however, is Eco Bean + Juice's guiding mentality. "I want a place that people can come in and feel safe, knowing what we have on the menu is clean and sourced properly," Cruz continues. "Our mind-set is, quality over profit."