How it Began…
Strong Hearts Cafe, a café located in the city of Syracuse, New York, offers an entire vegan menu including milkshakes, burgers, sandwiches, breakfast items, pizza, wings, and many more veganized dishes! Strong Hearts was launched in 2007 by two vegans, Joel (25 + years vegan) and Nick (15+ years vegan), after they attended a concert in NYC together. The two met as activists through membership in the Syracuse Animal Rights Organization (SARO) at Syracuse University but had little to no experience working in the restaurant business. After the concert, Joel and Nick stopped at Communitea, a cafe featuring vegan options, and thought, “A place like this would do amazing in Syracuse”. After a month or so, they opened the café and with a lot of support from family, friends, and the community, they have remained open since.
The name Strong Hearts originates from two places of inspiration. The first being the literal meaning of a strong heart; that eating a healthier and cruelty free diet is going to provide you with and support a strong heart. The second source of inspiration was a long-time friend of Joel’s and animal activist, Rod Coronado. Rod was in prison for liberating animals some time ago and created a zine containing a piece about animal rights titled Strong Hearts.
Supporting Local Organizations
The goal of opening Strong Hearts was to open a café that provided vegan options, filling a gap in
the community (Strong Hearts remains to be the only all-vegan restaurant in the Syracuse area). The intent of the café is not only to promote veganism but to support all ethical disparities such as human rights and the environment. The café has supported many local charities including Vera House, Inc., Interfaith Works, and Cuse Pit Crew raising money and awareness for efforts such as community homelessness, and women’s shelters. Strong Hearts prides itself on offering many vegan alternatives to our diverse community and being able to show others that vegan food is affordable and delicious!
Strong Hearts Café has a menu filled with breakfast items like sausages, pancakes, waffles, tofu scrambles, etc., lunch and dinner items including beyond burgers, sandwiches, soups, salads, all of which have many differing options. Friday nights are pizza night, where they serve up various pizza selections, in addition to a variety of flavors of their famous “chicken” wings. Their walls are covered in restaurant awards, animal rights artwork, and activism promotions. When you walk in, you see their front counter is placed in front of their massive milkshake menu which lists over 30 different types of delicious milkshakes (including coffee milkshakes)! I have brought many of my friends who are not vegan to Strong Hearts just to try a milkshake and every time they say that it’s thicker and tastier than a dairy milkshake.
I am personally a regular on Friday nights for pizza night. My favorite is the BBQ “chicken” pizza and Buffalo wings with homemade ranch dressing! They also offer a monthly special menu inspired by customer feedback and requests. This month, they’re featuring a Mediterranean Burger, Chicken Bacon Ranch Sandwich, and a Summer Kale Salad. Check out them out in the photos attached! They also offer a variety of baked goods such as cupcakes, muffins, cookies, whoopie pies, etc.
Nick and Joel’s second location, Strong Hearts On The Hill, near Syracuse University differs greatly from the Strong Hearts Café at 719 East Genesee St. SHOTH offers almost an entirely different menu due to a different kitchen, but don’t worry, it still includes plenty of their amazingly indulgent milkshakes! You can look for an article about Strong Hearts on the hill on our Vegan Syracuse page in the near future!
The NYS Fair 2018
Finally, Strong Hearts will once again be vending at the The Great New York State Fair this year, August 22nd-September 3rd, 2018 in the International Building. Besides throwing out some brand new menu items you’ve never had before, they’re also selling a rad t-shirt designed by local artist Dan Shanahan and printed by The Black Arts Studio – only available at the Fair!