Looking Inside ‘JaJaJa,’ the Vegan Mexican Restaurant at 162 East Broadway
Hold onto your sombreros, JaJaJa is on the proverbial precipice of opening at 162 East Broadway.
JaJaJa (Plantas Mexicana) is a vegan Mexican restaurant helmed by Gelso & Grand proprietor Nima Garos and partner Koorosh Bakhtiar. The concept has been in the works for more than a year, and evolved along the way. For one, the establishment previously went by “Gracias Mama,” and also, the menu wasn’t always strictly vegan.
Meanwhile, the wooden blinds are now twisted open during daytime hours, just enough to view the completed cantina. Porters cleaning the premises this week tell us that opening should be “next month.” By the sight of things, it could come sooner.
Jajaja was not forged without controversy, though. Bakhtiar and Garos caused quite a stir from the outset (when it was still Gracias Mama) having dispensed with two long-running Chinese businesses in its commercial space. The application became a skirmish over gentrification, with 162 East Broadway ground zero in the fight between Chinatown, the upper-crust Lower East Side, and the block associations representing each. Much of the opposition arguments centered around the front door above the East Broadway subway station, so placed to skirt the 200-foot law in relation to St. Teresa’s church.