LEUCADIA – In response to popular demand, Peace Pies of Ocean Beach has opened a second raw foods restaurant at 133 Daphne St. near Coast Highway in the space previously occupied by The Greenery Raw Food Café.
“Many visitors to our O.B. café asked us to open a restaurant up here,” explained owner J.P. Alfred. “They’d say, ‘North County is a great community that focuses on health.’”
Since the Sept. 6 opening, the buzz has been positive, with Peace Pies drawing from The Greenery’s loyal client following as well as new customers introduced to their signature cuisine at the Herb Festival at San Diego Botanic Gardens.
T.J. Rattray, manager of the Leucadia cafe, began collaborating with Alfred when they worked at the Ocean Beach People’s Food Co-op.
“We are constantly coming up with new menu items, trying new ingredients and new ways of doing things,” he said. “We use quality ingredients from local organic farmers including Suzie’s Farm, Imperial Beach; Sage Mountain Farm, Agunga; and J.R. Organics, Escondido.
He added, “We do trades with them – we get unprepared food, and they get prepared food.”
Peace Pies’ menu includes appetizers such as falafel, kale chips and flax crackers with nut “cheese.” There are also mock tuna wraps, veggie nori rolls and “Peace Pizza.”
Alfred’s personal favorites include tabouleh, rawvioli (pasta made of thinly-sliced jicama) and kale salad (kale, carrots, golden beets, bell peppers, sprouts and lemon-garlic dressing).
“I’ve found that the kale salad is very ‘grounding,’” he explained. “If I’m really hungry, a bowl sets me straight.”
Alfred was raised in Wakefield, R.I. on a “standard American diet.”
“I was lactose intolerant and hated fish,” he said. “I ended up being a vegetarian by default around the age of 12 or 13, but went back and forth.”
At the age of 14, he began working in the kitchens of traditional Italian, Mexican and seafood restaurants.
He got a break when he was hired at 21 to work in the vegan deli at People’s Co-op.
“They granted me a lot of freedom,” he said. “I developed many recipes by altering traditional recipes adapted to vegetarian diet, and again to a vegan diet.”
He added: “I really liked adapting vegan to raw food. I never feel weighed down, and always have plenty of energy.”
Alfred explained that raw food is growing in popularity because of its detoxifying benefits.
“Any time you add heat to raw foods, the natural chemicals change,” he said. “When you eat food in its natural, raw state your body is able to break it down in an efficient, positive way.”
Alfred initially started Peace Pies in 2006, selling his raw food dishes at local farmers markets. He opened his first restaurant in Ocean Beach in January 2008.
Despite the recession, business continues to be good.
“We deal with many people who have allergies,” he said. “There are also a growing number of people with diseases like Celiac. They don’t have many other options except a wheat- and gluten-free diet.”
For lighter fare, customers can enjoy green smoothies, Ginger Nize (made in Ocean Beach), Hemp “Mylk” and Kombucha (fermented tea). There are also daily specials. Prices range from $5 to $10 per item.
With the cooler weather upon us, Alfred has developed “comfort food” specialties that include raw cinnamon rolls, almond butter bars, and coconut crème pie. The crème is made with young coconut meat and cashews.
“We do a ton of pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving and Christmas,” he added.
Alfred also crafts lavish, multi-tiered wedding cakes using raw food. Flavors are available in chocolate, carrot and orange passion fruit. Young coconut is the key ingredient in the icing as well as the flour, which, along with dates, are used to make the cake.
Currently, Peace Pies is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Alfred has plans to eventually extend the hours into the evening. Dogs are welcomed on the patio.
Alfred has also begun booking special events. The lineup so far includes a talk by author and motivational speaker Barry Koral, international raw fruit broker and distributor, and owner Koral Tropical Fruit Farm in Vista; and a Raw Meetup Group.
For more information call (760) 479-0996 or visit peacepies.com.