Get ready, Brooklyn. You’re about to get a much-needed dose of fresh air with the reopening of Fort Greene’s Habana Outpost (757 Fulton St. at South Portland Avenue in Fort Greene) on May 12. Thanks to the hard work of visionary Sean Meenan and his many passionate partners, New York’s first eco-eatery has transformed into a bona-fide bazaar, hosting everything from fashion shows to family workshops. The Outpost strives to go beyond being just another lunch spot, and with a solar-powered awning, outdoor seating and an old mail truck serving as the kitchen, it’s the perfect place for learning, lounging and lunching. GO Brooklyn’s Sarah McCormick caught up with Meenan to chat with him about the Earth-friendly eatery and what we can expect from its second summer.
GO Brooklyn: How is your Fort Greene location different from your Manhattan one?
Sean Meenan: Well, there are a few things, physically it’s different [because] there’s more of an outdoor space. The big reason is that it reminded me a little bit of Elizabeth Street area 10 years ago in that there are a lot of different kinds people here and to me, that’s the beauty of New York. We tried to make a place where everyone feels included and there are all sorts of people just hanging out.
GO: Your restaurant is very green. What are the best innovations?
SM: A few things that we’re doing are a little bit unusual, we have a solar-powered chandelier — a local artist made a sculpture for us and we took a part a portion that looks like a neon light and, through fiber optics, it actually collects the sunlight outside and brings it inside — it’s amazing. With our design team, we’re going to collect rainwater off the roof to use to flush the toilets and irrigate our plants, and with Habana Labs, we’ll have wind power this year as well, with the installation probably in June.
GO: What places or experiences prompted you to make these changes?
SM: I really tried to think about of all aspects of the restaurant business. Look, there’s some things about the business, like ending up in a basement fighting over the price of a case of toilet paper, and it’s like, ‘What is my life coming to? This is not what I want to be doing!’ So, when we came to Fort Greene, we kept that in mind. We’re doing a kids corner and architecture workshops so that in a way we’re much more connected to the community.
GO: What sort of things do you like about the new location?
SM: I had wanted to do solar power for a long time and, when we came to this location, it was the perfect place because we have an outdoor lot that we can put panels across. This area really lends itself to that. It’s not on the roof or hidden, and we hang swings from it so people can also use it to get shade. In a very didactic way we can show people the kind of things that are possible — it serves a lot of different purposes.
GO: How did you manage to achieve all of this?
SM: A lot of people came on board and everyone had his own passion — some with harvest rainwater, some with wind turbines — and we all really wanted to be a place where creative people can come together and have a forum to share ideas. There’s not a lot of places where people are like ‘Hey, I wanna build windows,’ and someone else is like ‘Yo, let’s do it!’ and that’s the kind of place we want Outpost to become.
GO: What can we expect at the big party on May 12?
SM: Lots of stuff for kids. We’ll be making our own coloring books with recycled paper and used, Earth-friendly inks. We’ll have clowns and water games. A few different local bands, a fashion show and a space in the basement where there’ll be a DJ. We’ll be serving frozen mojitos — we’ve grown our own mint hydroponically.