Business Food & Wellness Maplewood

Cedar Ridge Café & Bakery to Go Veggie, Vegan & Kosher in September

Cedar Ridge Cafe & Bakery, 410 Ridgewood Rd., Maplewood, NJ

Edited to clarify: The bakery will offer vegetarian, vegan and kosher food — but will not be ALL vegan. Eggs will still be on the menu for sconewiches, etc.

Cedar Ridge Café & Bakery is making the leap.

With a bakery case that is already 90% vegan, according to baker Michelle Mancuso, the shop is going full-on vegetarian, vegan — and kosher — come September 5.

“We’ll be closing for a week in late August as usual,” said shop owner Paul Holtzman. And when Cedar Ridge opens again, the change will be complete.

The vegan/veggie aspect is no surprise. The popular local café has been building its vegan repertoire and clientele over the years under the aegis of Mancuso. Events like Vegan Bar & Game night (Every Thursday from 6-10 p.m.) have been hits, along with delicious vegan treats — vegan crab-less rolls, vegan pizza, vegan donuts (fried or baked!). The photos tell the story better:

“We’ll still have everything [from the menu], but with vegan” ingredients, said Mancuso. There will be no more meat scone, but the BLT will remain — using rice paper and/or tempeh bacon.

Meanwhile, Holtzman met with Rabbi Jesse Olitzky of Congregation Beth El in South Orange earlier this week. “He will certify us and oversee” with twice monthly visits, said Holtzman.

Olitzky, who already supervises Sonny’s Bagel on South Orange and ConsciousFork on Baker Street, said he is “thrilled” to provide Kosher supervision to Cedar Ridge.

“My goal is to provide more opportunities for those who keep kosher, those who have kosher homes and thus, will only bring kosher food into their homes, and synagogues with kosher kitchens to bring more kosher baked goods into their facilities – including Beth El,” wrote Olitzky via email. He will provide the supervision free of charge because he does it “as a service to the community to expand the kosher options in the area.”

With Cait & Abby’s on Sloan Street recently adding meat and pork products to their menu, “there wasn’t a kosher bakery in town,” Olitzky noted.

Cedar Ridge owner Paul Holtzman with Rabbi Jesse Olitzky

“I was speaking to Paul Holtzman while at the North Jersey Pride Festival about all the vegan additions they are adding to the menu and how I’d love to explore kosher supervision with them, but have meat and pork products on the menu make it really difficult to do. When he explained that they are planning on going completely vegetarian/vegan, that made it a lot easier. While the café is closed at the end of August, I will come in and make the kitchen, utensils, etc. kosher – which is a process that includes thoroughly heating the services, self-cleaning the ovens, using boiling water, a blowtorch, etc. – and when they open after Labor Day they will be under my kosher supervision.”

Holtzman and Mancuso see it all as making Cedar Ridge more ecologically and environmentally friendly. The café recently announced that it is selling metal straws to replace plastic ones. In addition, all the dish ware is secondhand, and patrons can buy re-usable “koozies” or knitted cup holders for their hot drinks.

Finally, Cedar Ridge is introducing a self-contained composter from Java’s Compost shortly.

“While us going vegetarian is technically still contributing to animal agriculture,” said Mancuso, “we are severely cutting down on our use of animal products but getting rid of meat. And while it is super important from an environmental standpoint it is also important to us from an ethical standpoint as well.” She provided the following information:

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