Healthy, Grainy Goodness
By Lorna Oppedisano | Photography by Steven J. Pallone
Original Grain, Syracuse’s newest health-conscious eatery, is poised at the crossroads of LA and NYC — well, sort of. Located at the former Tim Horton’s location on the corner of Salina and Fayette Streets, on the edge of Armory Square in the heart of downtown Syracuse, OG brings restaurant goers a menu of unique, healthy options in a crisp, bright and airy space, all revolving around the OG brand. Think the “bohemian vibe” you’d find in LA mashed with the “raw and beat boy, broken skate deck” from NYC.
“It’s fun when you can walk into a space and be fully engulfed by the brand, and it feels as though you’re transformed into another area or place in the world,” OG cofounder Chris Bily said.
The idea for OG was inspired by some conversations between Chris and cofounder Eric Hinman about healthier options in Syracuse. After they began taking inspirational trips to LA and NYC, the duo realized how to solve the problem of a lack of healthy restaurant options in the area: create one themselves. Their mouths started to water, and the wheels were set in motion, Chris explained. The duo opened OG on Aug. 29.
The location, 302 S. Salina St., was the perfect pick to achieve the vibe and create the space they’d envisioned. It was downtown, appealing to their target demographic of young professionals who live or work in the city. The team resurfaced the existing infrastructure that Tim Horton’s had left behind. The space wasn’t intimidatingly large, but had enough square footage to comfortably accommodate diners.
The next step was to cultivate the OG brand. Both men being “suckers for branding,” Chris admitted with a laugh, they understood the importance of providing an immersive experience for anyone who might set foot in the space.
While only Chris, cofounder of Armory Square’s Modern Malt, had experience as a restauranteur, Eric — who’d been a “frequent flier as a customer” in the culinary world — was familiar with providing and promoting a customer experience, thanks to his work as partner/cofounder of Urban Life Athletics. He’s enjoyed the learning process of entering a new business, he said.
A large piece of the OG brand is, of course, the focus on the healthy food. The menu offers a variety of bowls, brekkie bowls, nori wraps, sandwiches, smoothies, toasts, local spirits and more. Not familiar with some of those terms? Not to worry; OG proudly features unique ingredients and encourages their customers to throw caution to the wind and venture into trying new foods.
Both Chris and Eric suggest newcomers try the Great Swell, featuring ahi tuna, cucumber, radish, avocado, carrot, edamame, cilantro, spicy sauce, sesame seeds and a sesame-ginger dressing.
The duo stressed the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle.
“We really want to educate people here [in Syracuse] about how important it is to eat healthy, and that it goes far beyond just being lean,” Eric said. He explained that a healthy diet affects physical and mental performance, as well as energy level throughout the day; in turn, those things affect creativity, business decisions, home life and more, he said.
Chris and Eric want to show people that following a good diet doesn’t have to mean eating carrot sticks, they explained. With the fun ingredients compiled to create the eclectic menu, OG is truly an adventurous experience. “It’s not what you can’t eat,” Eric said. “It’s what you can eat.” SWM
To learn more about Original Grain, as well as upcoming events hosted at the restaurant, visit originalgrainsters.com or facebook.com/originalgrainny. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.