Food by VICE

This Restaurant's Investors Are Suing It for Deciding to Go Vegan

Maybe it’s all the meat they eat. Maybe it’s the lack of sugary treats in their systems. But one thing is for sure: don’t mess with an ornery legion of Paleo CrossFitters.

by Alex Swerdloff
Aug 19 2015, 5:00pm

Photo via Mercy For Animals on Flickr

Maybe it's all the meat they eat. Maybe it's the lack of sugary treats in their systems. But one thing is for sure: don't mess with an ornery legion of Paleos. The club lodged in your cranium will likely convince you that they live up to their moniker in more ways than one.

At least that's the lesson one restaurant in New York City's Greenwich Village is learning the hard way.

The owners and manager of GustOrganics are nothing if not earnest people. When they first opened their restaurant in 2008, they were proud to serve a Paleo-promoting repertoire. The restaurant took off with local models and athletes—Miranda Kerr recommended it in In Style—and started to get hail mail, texts, tweets, and Instagrams. Fans, many of whom were local CrossFit devotees, appreciated the 100-percent organic menu with plenty of protein-friendly options to choose from.

READ: Eating Meat Requires Killing More Animals Than You Think

But then, something happened, according to manager Kiki Adami, her husband and co-owner Paul Chang, and fellow co-owner Alberto Gonzalez. The three watched several documentaries about the devastation caused by the global meat industry on the environment, and decided they could not in good conscience continue to serve meat. They decided to take their restaurant away from the Paleo philosophy and into the world of veganism, and made the menu transition late last year.

That's when the restaurant's meat-loving customers began to swing their clubs.

When one customer learned that the sizzling fajitas would not longer come with chicken or fish, they customer texted Kiki Adami, the manager, the following low blow: "Is something wrong with you?"

Adami told DNAInfo, "I was receiving hate emails from the [meat-loving] CrossFit people, we were their go-to spot," said manager Kiki Adami. "I must have gotten 50 hate mails."

Still, Adami, Chang and Gonzalez felt they were doing the right thing. "There was a huge disconnect, because even organic farming is one of the main reasons for deforestation and [agriculture] also produces more methane emissions from all the cow-farting than all the cars in the world combined," Adami says.

No more sizzling meat of any kind. Now you can find tempeh taquitos and chipotle seitan to your heart's desire. But the Paleos were not amused.

Nor are GustOrganics' investors. They bought into the restaurant when it was a protein emporium fit for cavemen and CrossFitters alike.

A lawsuit has now been filed in New York Supreme Court against Adami, Chan, and co-owner Alberto Gonzalez. It alleges that the three "have damaged the reputation and sales of the business." The complaint further says that the new, vegan business model is "in contradiction of representations made" when GustOrganics owner Alberto Gonzalez's brought them on as investors.

Basically, things have become a complete shitshow over at GustOrganics. The investors say the restaurant is in dire straits. Adami, Chan, and Gonzalez beg to disagree. "I'm being sued for losing clientele, but for the first June in three years we actually made money," Adami says.

READ: The Original Paleo Diet Was Full of Carbs

The investors have even accused Gonzalez with "abandoning" GustOrganics in favor of an online business called AceNatural.com. They are seeking a preliminary injunction, the turning over of the the business to their control, and monetary damages.

Gonzalez says, "I will provide my side of the story in court."

Adami is trying to take the high road against these Paleo-pushing investors. She recently posted the following chill-out recommendation to the meat-eaters on Facebook: "#Rumors are flying about #gustorganics All we can say is come in and find out just what's going on. We can tell you this much, we are all ephemoral [sic] in this life and we can only do our best with the short time that we are given. #NoRegrets #EvolveForAnimals#vegansofig #happy #hclf #organic #proteinMyth".

Who can say exactly what is in store for GustOrganics and the humanitarian culinarians behind its reign? Only time will tell whether the let's-all-get-along vegans can hold their own against the Paleos.