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Vegan restaurant Merge officially ceases operations

In early January, Merge owner Sarah Schneider Newton announced she was putting restaurant operations on hold to weigh the future of the business and pause from a frenetic holiday schedule.

On Tuesday, Newton decided Merge, at 439 Delaware Ave., would officially stop functioning as a full-scale restaurant and instead focus on a series of special events, beginning with a buffet-style dinner for gift-card holders only on April 14.

Newton, who opened the vegan-friendly restaurant in 2009 with her sister Eliza Schneider, cited "a stressful work environment" that did not fit the "mentality Merge was founded on."

For context, the Delaware Avenue space was intended to be a relaxed, sustainable outlet for plant-based eaters, families and their friends, as well as a hub to support the arts through special events, but the reality had apparently veered away from the mission.

[Related: Merge is an upscale restaurant that puts vegans first]

"The transition into a new year and the hope of new opportunities made clear to me that it was time to close," Newton wrote in the Merge newsletter. "Please understand that this was not a premeditated closure and at no time were we accepting money for gift cards in bad faith. It was a crushing realization for me and an incredibly emotional decision.

"I thank you again for giving me the space to work out the technical and logistical issues surrounding closing the restaurant in its traditional format." Future events open to regular customers and other plant-based eaters will be posted to Merge's website.

Email: btsujimoto@buffnews.com

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