GUILDERLAND, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Ritual 518 opened December 1 with a mission to make caring about nutrition a daily rite in the Capital Region. Owners Sam Kubik, 22, of Troy and Gina Tralongo, 44, of Schenectady focus on clean eating and ensure their recipes are transparent.
While some of their meat-free dishes are peppered with cheese, eggs, or honey, Kubik and Tralongo offer many more options with no animal products. Smoothies, superfoods, artisan toast, shakes, and granola highlight exactly what’s on the menu, where it’s from, and why it’s good to eat.
“After working in foodservice, it’s easy to see all of the ways the consumer might be misled about the nutritional value of their food. I think it’s extremely important to be transparent about what your customers are putting in their bodies,” says Kubik.
A healthy, fresh, and natural aesthetic permeates the menu and the space, a juice bar in front and boutique fitness center in the back. Kubik and Tralongo grew Ritual 518 out of Freestyle Fitness Center, also owned by Tralongo, where Kubik was a member before becoming a trainer.
Although they approach the restaurant from a health-and-fitness perspective, rituals are not precisely scientific.
Both owners are athletes and fitness industry professionals passionate about pristine, whole food, plant-based nutrition. Calorically and karmically, they say their detoxifying blends of greens, fruits, grains, and nuts are more nourishing than any restrictive diet.
Plant-based foods represent an emerging cuisine option, with many modern foodies thinking of it as a valid category alongside Chinese or pizza. While under 10% of Americans are committed to following a plant-based diet, many more are casually interested in limiting carnivorous tendencies to only certain days, meals, or hours.
Still, plant-based consumers remain an underserved market. According to plant-based food finder Happy Cow, diners have only four dedicated vegetarian spots and four vegan eateries within 10 miles of Ritual 518.
“Plant-based” is a soft rebranding of “vegan” meant to shift the conversation about dietary preferences. Although they prioritize admirable issues like animal rights, environmental conservation, and health concerns, vegans can be uncompromising in their beliefs.