The Candle story began in the summer of 1984, when Bart Potenza purchased Sunny’s, a landmark health food store and juice bar located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. In honor of the previous owners’ nightly ritual of lighting candles to bless their establishment, Bart renamed it the Healthy Candle and made it his own.
In 1987 Joy Pierson began frequenting Healthy Candle as a customer and friend. She eventually became the in-house nutritionist for the fast-growing eatery. Bart was so impressed by her commitment to the vegetarian and holistic movement that he made her a partner in the business. As their mutual passion for their mission grew, so did their power as a team in the vegetarian movement. In its 10 year history, the Healthy Candle evolved from a juice bar and vitamin shop, into a full service juice bar and cafe featuring a vegetarian menu of homemade soups, sandwiches, salads and entrees.
Customer demand overwhelmingly confirmed that Healthy Candle could make a difference in people’s lives by feeding them fresh, wholesome, vegetarian food. Bart and Joy knew they had to expand, but how? They asked, and the universe answered: on Friday the 13th, 1993, Bart and Joy won $53,000 in the take-five lottery, and Candle Cafe was on its’ way! Since 1994, Candle Cafe has been serving an organic vegan menu composed of the freshest ingredients available and has been continually rated as one of the best vegan/vegetarian restaurants in the country by both traditional and holistic communities. Candle Cafe strives to bring every guest food that comes directly from the farm to the table by using produce grown locally whenever possible. The cuisine of Candle Cafe also inspired Bart and Joy’s best selling Candle Cafe Cookbook. Candle Cafe also operates using the cleanest environmental practices possible and was the first Certified Green Restaurant™ in NYC by the Green Restaurant Association.
In 2003 demand for growth called again, and Candle 79 was born just 5 blocks away. This time, the Candle’s famed vegan, organic cuisine was presented in a different setting, a two-floor fine dining oasis with an organic wine and sake bar for the conscientious yet sophisticated eater. Candle 79 has twice been rated as Zagat’s #1 vegetarian restaurant, and its reputation is known internationally. It is a regular restaurant choice of neighborhood regulars, celebrities, politicians, and corporate tycoons.