Guest post by Carly Elson
If you’re a social person and you live in New York City then “where should we eat?” becomes a central question in your day-to-day life. Anywhere else, such a question would evoke a practical answer—whatever is decent and nearby. But here, the answer is the average of countless variables—the “vibe”, the clientele, the rating (Zagats and the health department), to name a few. New Yorkers follow foodie blogs, reserve early, and amass long lists of places that we “have to” try this year. And after we visit one, we move on to the next. We’re restaurant hobbyists. But once in a while we stumble on a place that feels different—that gets us—and we find ourselves coming back, day in and day out, again and again.
For me, that restaurant is Siggy’s Good Food in Brooklyn Heights. (It also has a Manhattan location). When I moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn Heights nearly six years ago, it was a time of transition in my life. I was going from living with two friends in midtown Manhattan to living with my boyfriend of nine months in an unfamiliar and significantly quieter (what if no one visits me here!) part of town. All I knew about Brooklyn Heights was that when I entered the subway after work at the hustle and bustle that is 59th and Lex and emerged at High Street / Cadman Plaza West, all the day’s burdens instantly lifted from my being. Walking down the brownstone-laden streets under breezy tree cover, I was sublimely happy.
I was also relatively isolated. I didn’t have a Brooklyn social circle and informal encounters with a familiar, friendly face were virtually nonexistent. I was looking for something to make Brooklyn Heights home. Then I discovered Siggy’s; a small, quirky restaurant just a short block away that proclaimed in all its signage that “aliens eat for free.” By my first salmon burger, I was hooked. I started coming back daily for dinner and on the weekends for brunch, sometimes both in one day. The staff was friendly and eager to help. Soon, everyone knew my name. They started memorizing my favorite fruit smoothies (first it was Berry Buzz, then Spa Skin Secret, Protein Energizer and recently, the Green Alien Quencher) and additions to specific meals (“extra avocado on the salmon burger” and “two sides of turkey bacon directly on top of the Live Earth salad”).
When my friends started coming to visit me in my new hood, I took them to Siggy’s. In my recent call log, Siggy’s had an esteemed spot at the top of the list, just below my mom. I introduced my parents to Siggy herself—a burst of energy and commitment to her cause: to create delicious, healthy meals that were good for her customers and good for the world. I was proud to bring people to Siggy’s, proud that such an institution was in my neighborhood. Siggy’s was more than the sum of its delicious, organic food and seasonal menu—it was the embodiment of a world where people could live in harmony with their food, rather than in fear of how it could harm them. In a time of processed food, antibiotics and “food science” convenience snacks, Siggy’s was a shining star for fresh, sustainable eating.
It was (and is) the best restaurant in the neighborhood.
Which is why I was so sad when I found out that it was closing. It’s a huge loss to Brooklyn Heights. Neighborhoods go through transition. Movie theaters close. Condos go up. It’s the changing of the tides. I get it. But this was different. This is different. This was a woman who founded a restaurant as a labor of love, to serve a higher good. Not because it was easy (clearly it was not), but because it was her passion. It was our privilege.
Siggy’s Good Food provided nourishment for body, soul and planet. And for the new girl to the neighborhood—a warm welcome home.
Carly Elson is a marketing executive in NYC. She lives with her husband (the “boyfriend” from the piece) in Brooklyn Heights.