Written by A Wild Dove | Photographed by Eric White
This modern mama talks Organic Avenue’s relaunch and why she’ll be stocking the stores with vegan candy this time around.
Sometimes a mama comes along that blows us away with her vision and impact on our community at large. Case in point: Denise Mari, founder of Organic Avenue. This stunning blonde is a poster mama for living a vegan, holistic lifestyle. She just GLOWS. After selling her stakes in the original Organic Avenue she founded, Mari moved to Westhampton to launch a bed-and-cleanse style B&B, as well as, raise her son Oliver. But she couldn’t keep away from the brand vision she created. Now, with partner Steven Fisher of Fisher Capital Investments, she is reviving OA with updated products and a reinvigorated message. We couldn’t wait to get the scoop with this mama herself. She truly embodies what being a modern mama is all about:
Once you originally left OA, can you discuss the time you took to raise your son? How was that?
DM: All things happen for a reason. I was truly blessed to be given an opportunity to head east and out of the city for a few years and get acquainted with a different pace of life. Of course, I couldn't keep it that simple. I went right into buying a large home/bed+breakfast. This was my first solo renovation project, a lovely home that was Alfred E. Smith’s family home (the former NY governor and presidential nominee). The previous owners were running the 8 bedroom home as a B+B and I decided it would make a nice project/home-based business as well as serve as a home for me and my son Oliver who was just 3 at the time. Mari Manor was born. I love cultivating and creating space and this grand old home gave me plenty to do! Living out east on Long Island brings back memories of my own childhood as I was born and raised there until age 15. It has been a blessing and a gift to have a home again on the island.
"I’d love to expand the reach, inspire and support people and their healthy lifestyle goals and continue to create what people need to succeed, thrive and enjoy these lifestyle choices to the fullest."
How did you connect with Steven Fisher?
DM: Purely next level miracle. Although I had left Organic Avenue and had begun a new chapter in my life, I did not leave entirely of my own accord. I was blessed to have an opportunity to move onto a new experience yet I did not feel that I had finished what I had started. I had multiple attempts to partner with new potential investors and to reconnect with Organic Avenue yet nothing transpired. When I found out the business was entering bankruptcy, I was especially concerned. I have a deep connection with the mission, vision, and brand values that I hold for Organic Avenue. When I was approached by Steven Fisher of FCI I was ready to have a strong partner that could truly bring the dream back to life. I continue to be in awe at the turn of events and the commitment, trust and vision that Steven Fisher and FCI team had to make the most of the opportunity in a short period of time and honor my role in bringing back the LOVE* to NYC.
What can we expect with the re-envisioned OA? Can you define the lifestyle component?
DM: Phase One re-boot is quite extensive. Our goal was to get the recouped real estate leases back into action and producing revenue while selling the highest quality organic lifestyle food, beverage and products. Bottles and bags back on the street. We have created all new offerings, enhanced some old favorites, revamped the existing locations’ look and feel, and relaunched stores in record time. This goal was to get us back in action serving the communities that were relying on us for clean food and drink options. We have launched an Organic Avenue snack line, quick-heat meals, full meal salads, cold-pressed juice bottled in glass, desserts, a vegan cafe that has gluten-free baked good, organic espresso bar, caffeine free coffee alternatives and a Blend bar that has a whole new Smoothie and Bowl offering using our house-made non-dairy Organic Avenue Mylks
What is your favorite OA drink and food?
DM: So much here is so good and good for you! I love the Matcha Latte made with Organic Avenue Almond Mylk, Asian Noodle Salad (rice noodles and tempeh), the 'quick-heat' Cheezy Polenta with Garlic Green Beans, the Almond Berry Smoothie, Vegan Chocolate Chip Blondie, and the Avocado soup, the Pink Peace Bowl. There is really so much to try and enjoy and something to love for everyone. AND more to come. We will be adding pressed sandwiches, wraps, hot soups and more items to the marketplace each week.
What do you love about the Serenity Drink? We are obsessed.
DM: It’s super hydrating, incredibly refreshing with apple, cucumber, fennel, spinach, lemon. It’s a totally unique green juice with a welcoming light fennel flavor.
What's your vision and ethos for OA?
DM: To truly to share the Organic Avenue lifestyle as a place of peace, health, and abundance for all, with all who want it and those who need it. I’d love to expand the reach, inspire and support people and their healthy lifestyle goals and continue to create what people need to succeed, thrive and enjoy these lifestyle choices to the fullest.
How has your son shaped your vision or inspired you?
DM: He is such a little miracle. He continues to inspire me to look closely at the foods we are eating and to help shape foods for kids that are nutrient dense yet fun. I was concerned about his school experience and how he would feel 'being different' as he is not joining others with the pizza party or other school provided foods. Yet he has been amazing. And does not want for animal based foods or dairy. Now, candy and the artificial flavor and coloring conversation is another story, and a little beyond him at 6 years old. And we let that go on occasion for the sake of “being a kid.” Yet even that candy has an organic vegan solution and I have deliberately made sure to stock the Organic Avenue Marketplace with candies that are as clean as they come.
How have you changed since the first incarnation of OA?
DM: I may have relaxed around the 100% raw organic vegan approach to eating, and embraced a larger whole-food plant based diet, cooked and raw. Yet I still feel strongly that the raw, living food vegan diet is a truly healing diet and necessary part of the the plant-based diet and the greater % raw, the greater holistic health one can achieve. I also think my faith has grown, as has my confidence in all Organic Avenue has to offer and what it can achieve.