Twisted Tree planted on Cookman Avenue in 2003 with a solid foundation of offering vegan-friendly fare that defied any meat eater to complain about taste, particularly its tofu meatball sandwich with vegan cheese.
Its menu also boasts an array of vegan and gluten free sandwiches, wraps, salads, soups, and vegan baked goods. They have an extensive list of espresso and other coffee drinks, as well as power healthy smoothies.
In the vein of its name, Twisted Tree has maintained a strong following throughout its changes in ownership, including the most recent purchase by Ocean Township natives Amanda Cupo and Mark MacPherson.
Many may recognize the duo from the decade they spent as city residents; that is up until three years ago when work took them west to Freehold.
The health conscious couple, who married Sunday, both hail from a hospitality background, with MacPherson working as a chef in many popular Jersey Shore eateries, including at the now closed Ivan and Andy’s Prime and Market in Middle, and at Tres Amici in Long Branch. Cupo worked in marketing prior to the investment.
“He’s an amazing chef,” she said. “And, I was so sick of the 9 to 5 job so this was the best opportunity for both of us. It really fell into our laps; I feel like it was meant to be.”
Cupo who has a gluten and dairy allergy said MacPherson quickly took to creating innovative meals that catered to her diet.
“He just fell into it so beautifully and started making these dishes that are unbelievable,” she said. “Like the avocado mousse he made. I can’t wait until he starts bringing that here.”
MacPherson began in the restaurant industry at age 14 but after college formally entered hospitality at 22, he said.
While their sites were on possibly moving south to North Carolina, an online posting listing the 900 square foot eatery’s sale caught MacPherson’s eye.
“We always wanted to own our place,” MacPherson said. “But [it’s hard] to find the right price, the right area, the right niche. This was the best I had seen in a long time; from location to price.”
They closed on the $150,000 sale on February 27 and spent three weeks training with the previous owners.
“We never thought we’d come back to Asbury,” Cupo said. “We’ll be looking to move back.”
“There are so many great regulars that come here,” Cupo said. “Originally we thought we were going to make all these changes but I don’t think that’s going to happen. It has such a great vegan and vegetarian niche.”
Cupo said they will try to offer more gluten free items, also based on customer demand.
The couple will close May 1 to 10 for their pre purchased and planned honeymoon.
“We actually had a great response from our customers,” Cupo said. “We originally weren’t going to close Saturday [for the wedding] but everyone was very positive. We haven’t taken a vacation in five years so we really need this.”
They also plan to offer pop up dinners, rent the space for special events during off hours, and look to enter the vegan wedding favor market based on the positive feedback received by their own personalized wedding favors.
The new owners are already garnering national recognition, evident in being named the state’s best vegan spot in an April 12 theculturetrip.com article.
Twisted Tree is located at 609 Cookman Ave. The current hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays and Wednesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 8 pm. Saturdays. They can be reached via 732-775-2633 or [email protected]. For more information, visit their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.
The Asbury Park Sun is affiliated with the triCityNews newspaper.