Ashely Coyne’s vegan restaurant will cater to those with specific dietary needs, and offers a menu that is gluten, egg, and dairy-free.
By Matt Skoufalos
Haddon Heights resident Ashley Coyne spent the summer introducing her plant-based recipes at farmers markets throughout South Jersey, securing permits to flip the former Aster’s Flower Shop location on Haddon Avenue in Westmont, and fitting out the space.
At 11 a.m. Thursday, she opens the doors.
In advance of that public welcome, Coyne said she’s feeling “a mix of all of the emotions.
“It’s been a long time coming with the whole process,” she said. “People are still excited.”
Coyne’s kitchen is intended as a clean-eating antidote to limited on-the-go choices for those with dietary restrictions. Its exclusively plant-based menu—no dairy, egg, or gluten ingredients—caters to diners who may be more accustomed to having to prepare such fare themselves.
“It’s not like going out to eat,” Coyne said. “It’s something you can get a few times a week. [Customers] don’t have to be worried about the oil content or crazy sugar amounts. We’re really conscious of that.”
To start, Heart Beet is focusing on a core of traditional recipes with a vegan twist.
The black bean burger comes with sprouts, avocado, horseradish and pickle slices on a bed of greens.
The hummus sandwich is topped with greens, red onions, purple cabbage, and cucumbers on a gluten-free everything bagel from Philadelphia’s Sweet Note vegan bakery.
Heart Beet’s pizza is based upon a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free crust, topped with house-made marinara and seasonal flavors, like button mushrooms and butternut squash.
The raw garden, root veggie, and sprout-and-seed salads are prepared with produce sourced locally from Zone 7 distributors. Smoothies are an intentional departure from “the peanut butter-chocolate-and-banana thing,” Coyne said, made with soy or almond milk.
They include the Thin Mint (fresh mint, cacao nibs, spinach, agave, and banana), Pumpkin Pie (pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, mango, agave, banana, and walnuts), and Not Your Average Joe (banana, espresso, cocoa, almond butter, and agave). For an added boost, customers can pump them up with 23 grams of pea protein.
For dessert, Heart Beet serves chia pudding made from German chocolate with a salted caramel walnut topping, chickpea cookie dough with coconut whipped cream, and beet pudding with banana, avocado, and cacao.
Inspired Brews kombucha, a probiotic, fermented tea, will be available on draft or to go in half-gallon growlers. Seasonal flavors include evergreen, ginger, and warm cinnamon. Revolution Coffee is also on the menu.
Coyne plans to expand and adjust her offerings seasonally. A wall-mounted roll of butcher paper will feature daily specials, and will give her staff a chance to log customer requests.
Although the inside of the restaurant features dine-in eating at the Philadelphia Wood Craft Company-made counter, a cafe/lounge area, or a communal table from Cherry Hill’s Wood By Wolf, Coyne said she expects Heart Beet will do lots of takeout business.
“We have the grab-and-go [case]that will have prepared food for people who really won’t want to wait,” she said. “We’re also a BYO. Down the line, we’ll do farm-to-table dinners.”
Helping Coyne in the kitchen is 20-year-old Cailin Sheehan of Haddon Heights, who’s followed a vegan diet for three years.
Sheehan regards Heart Beet as an ideal option for people looking for a “clean” meal.
“I like places around here, but I don’t always have time to make my own food,” she said.
“[Here] I know everything that’s going into it.”
Sheehan, Coyne, and fellow staffers Natalie Moody and Erin Howard all connected over their common interest in keeping active (Sheehan was working at a gym juice bar when she met Coyne), and view their food choices as a critical component of that.
“We all live this lifestyle so it’s easy for us,” Coyne said.
Coyne has a gluten intolerance, and said that without the option of an eatery like hers, she’d find herself traveling to Whole Foods in Cherry Hill for take-and-go food. Other customers evidently are willing to go farther than that.
“Yesterday a lady pulled up [who] saw us at the Haddon Township Music Festival,” Coyne said. “She came from Willow Grove [PA].”
Heart Beet Kitchen is located at 29 Haddon Avenue in Westmont (856-240-1106).