Ten Years of Good Karma in New Paltz

Photo by Jeannette LaPointe.

If you’ve spent any time at all in New Paltz, you’ve heard of Karma Road. The Main Street eatery is a household name in the village, offering patrons the freshest of local produce whipped into unique vegetarian and vegan-friendly dishes. 2017 marks the restaurant’s 10-year anniversary in New Paltz, and according to co-owner and founder Seth Branitz, it’s truly an occasion to celebrate.

Seth, a writer and singer-songwriter under the name Seth Davis, and his partner and Karma Road’s co-owner Jenn Branitz, a runner, have two sons and a household full of pets. The duo switched to a vegan diet and lifestyle years ago because they love animals, Seth says: for both parties, abstaining from eating meat and animal byproducts was “a no-brainer.” The duo founded Karma Road in 2007 with the goal of bringing a healthier, plant-based dining option to the village of New Paltz. 

Branded as a “vegan deli,” the restaurant is always jam-packed with health-conscious locals and hungry tourists alike. Many of their offerings are gluten-free, and all of the dishes at Karma Road are free of meat, fish, eggs and dairy. Vegetarian and vegan dining have a sort of stigma surrounding them, Seth admits, but he and Jenn wanted to show their customers that eating healthy can also be delicious.

“We wanted to offer something for everyone at their level,” Seth says. “Those who don’t care about their health will enjoy the delicious selections, [and] those who are trying to make changes can go for more green stuff and try real fruit smoothies.”

Karma Road’s customer base grows every year. Most of their customers aren’t even vegan; they just love the taste of the lighter, fresh fare offered at Karma Road. That said, Seth and Jenn know firsthand how tough it can be for vegans, vegetarians or gluten-free eaters looking to dine out on the town.

“Jenn and I learned our trade in vegetarian and allergy-aware kitchens,” he says. “People who are vegan or gluten-free know that they can have abundant choices here, not just an obligatory dish or two.”

Because Karma Road’s pantries are filled with almost entirely organic ingredients, the cost of their vegan grub is a little steeper than conventional eateries, Seth explains. But customers are paying for the best of the best, and in spite of the higher upfront cost on the restaurant’s end, the team at Karma Road tries to price their food competitively. They even offer discounted items in their deli cases.

“Quite a few students have gift certificates that their parents have provided so they know they’ll be eating well,” Seth says. “We call them ‘Karma Dollars.’”

Being in the business for over a decade, Seth and Jenn know what works: their customers keep coming back because they love how Karma Road’s plant-based dishes make them feel.

“[Our customers] feel good about themselves, about the process of them taking better care of themselves,” he says. “They find inspiration to not only eat better, but to cook better and to think about their food in different ways.”

To learn more about Karma Road’s organic vegan fare, visit karmaroad.net or call 845-255-1099.