Teeming with people from all walks of life, Habana Outpost in Fort Greene is an eco-friendly summer oasis in the middle of the city. The restaurant, New York’s first ecoeatery, was founded by in 2005 by artist and businessman, Sean Meenan. Habana outpost has 2 sister establishments in SoHo, called Café Habana, and Habana-to-go. The Outpost, which is only open half the year, will be closing for the season on October 31, and reopening on Earth Day 2010, April 22.
“It’s a community spot,” said Eric Rosa, one of the PR managers at Habana Outpost. “Its innovative. The owner has done a lot of stuff that others haven’t.” Rosa explained that since its founding, Habana Outpost has gone from being open four days a week (Thursday-Sunday) in the season in 2005, to seven days currently. “Eventually we’ll be open all year round,” Rosa said.
A new establishment is set to open in Malibu in Spring 2010, to join the Habana family.
“Its good,” said Ray*, a local resident. “It’s interracial, but its also a social spot.” Ray repeated numerous times during the interview that the Outpost was frequented by people of different racial backgrounds.
Fort Greene, which is part of District 35, has a diverse ethnic makeup with 63% ‘Black’, and 17% ‘White’. The additional 20% is made up of ‘Asian’ and ‘Hispanic’ residents.
Located on a residential block, Habana Outpost has posted signs asking its patrons to be considerate and to keep the noise down. The arrival of dozens of bikers at the beginning of summer came as a rude shock to both the establishment, and nearby residents. New York Times blogger Mike Reicher wrote an article Born To Be Wild Outside Habana Outpost about the unprecedented visits, and interviewed Habana manager Marisol Tineo. In the interview Tineo said the motorcyclists were “very rude and very nasty.”
A comment on the blog by CJ said the bikers “turned Habana into their Saturday evening meeting hall.”
“A group of motorcycle clubs were a problem this year,” said Darcy Le Fleming, PR manager of Habana Outpost. “We fought back, we
contacted our local precinct and councilwoman.” The police responded quickly by setting up barricades on the weekends, and ticketing the bikers for drinking in public. “By August it was under control,” said Le Fleming.
A comment by CJ under Reicher’s post dated August 17th affirmed this. “I happened by Habana a week ago Saturday and saw the barricades and, happily, the lack of motorcycles.”
The Outpost has become a central meeting point in the area, and according to Ray has benefited its neighbors. “[Habana Outpost] brings a lot of traffic that benefits other businesses,” said Ray. “And it’s eco-friendly too.”
Habana Outpost is lauded as an exceptionally ‘green’ business by publications such as New York Magazine, The Village Voice, and Timeout, amongst others. With solar panels, bike blenders which power the bar, biodegradable eating utensils, and rainwater used to flush the toilets, the establishment has surpassed others environmentally.
However, its sustainable efforts have introduced extra costs. “Things like compostable silverware are more expensive,” said Le Fleming. “So we have to buy a ridiculous amount of things at a time.” Habana Outpost orders its goods in bulk, and orders for its other restaurants are made at the same time.
“The last thing we want is for the cost to translate to the consumer,” Le Fleming said.
“The energy over here is crazy,” said Ray. “It reflects the quality of life.”
*The interviewee declined to give his last name, citing that professional difficulties might arise.