Those craving vegan comfort food—or, if you prefer, just plain comfort food—have a new place to get it in Bushwick.
The team behind Screamer’s Pizzeria and Champs Diner, already known for their clamoring crowds of both vegans and non-vegans hoping to fill up on some comfort food, have opened a new restaurant in Bushwick called Hartbreakers. The new restaurant has only been open for about a couple of months, but it’s already settling into the neighborhood.
“We already have regulars,” says Diane Corsones, general manager. Rounding out Screamer’s slices and pies and Champs’ diner classics, Hartbreakers is a ’70s-inspired fast-casual spot featuring goods like fried chick’n sandwiches, beet burgers and non-boring salads. The restaurant boasts a menu where nearly everything is made in-house, starring recipes long in the making by head chef Erica Sharkey.
“We kind of were playing a lot with the idea of, how can we have something that’s very comforting to you but is very fresh and doesn’t weigh you down?” Sharkey says. “It all comes back to feeling good and just enjoying food.”
The fried chick’n is a favorite (both of Sharkey and patrons), and deservedly so—she spent months recipe testing. The end result manages to be lighter than a hunk of fried protein would typically be, though she won’t reveal her kitchen secrets.
Hartbreakers’ updated-’70s vibe can be seen a bit in the menu’s faithfulness to classics, though mercifully no aspics or other questionable culinary artifacts make an appearance. But the theme is especially visible in the restaurant’s overall aesthetic. Corsones, who, like Sharkey, has been onboard since the restaurant’s conception, says that the space itself inspired the idea for the concept.
“It evolved pretty naturally just from being in the space,” Corsones says of the ’70s theme. “We didn’t walk in with a concept, exactly. The light in there is just really nice,” and from that came the inspiration for a disco-era sensibility.
The space is well lit and brightly decorated, designed to look “like your grandma’s living room, but updated,” according to the creative team. Case in point: Corsones herself found the genuine vintage wallpaper now lining the space in bright yellow. But the bright theme doesn’t stop at the decor—Sharkey’s recipes are very color-focused, incorporating a rainbow of vegetables into dishes like the tangy slaw and the bright-pink beet burger.
The colorful, veggie-heavy yet still classic comfort dishes have proven to be a successful draw, if Hartbreakers’ Instagram following of over 20,000 is any indication. But despite the photogenic quality of the space and the food, the creative team’s primary interest at this point is simply putting out great food and cultivating a space where guests feel at home.
“I just want a place where people feel welcomed and comfortable,” Corsones says. “I want people to feel comfortable coming into lunch by themselves or with a big group. I don’t want any kind of elitism involved at all.”
Hartbreakers is located at 820 Hart St, and as of November 1, is open 11 a.m.–11 p.m. every day.
Photos courtesy of Hartbreakers.