“I hope that people come in and feel welcome.”
That’s what Lyndsey Ritz says about her Bali-inspired, cafe-retail boutique-juice bar, Coco Plum Place.
For 12 years, Ritz owned and ran Midway Cafe in Islamorada. After selling, she made healthy juices while waiting to find the perfect property to create something new. She bought a house behind the old Pink Junktique in Key Largo and thought to herself how perfect it would be if she could walk to work.
On a whim, Ritz asked if the owner of the consignment shop would sell. Before she knew it, she had purchased the iconic building, set off on seven months of renovations and began forming the concept of what would eventually become Coco Plum Place.
That was two years ago, and Ritz notes that the local reception has been fantastic since day one.
“I feel like Key Largo was waiting to have something like this,” she told the Weekly. “There really isn’t anything like this. We have some coffee shops and some smoothie places but not all that along with retail, while keeping everything healthy, welcoming and fun. So, we fit a niche, which is good.”
The mission of Coco Plum Place states that health and happiness are choices, so every item served or sold is intended to enhance customers’ health and happiness. Recyclable, sustainable and/or renewable materials are used everywhere possible, from natural reed straws to coconut husk bowls for the smoothie bowls, a local favorite. Ingredients, too, tend to be harder to find, higher quality and traditionally prepared for optimal enjoyment.
“This is important in my business,” Ritz said. “I could have healthy foods that are animal products or products that aren’t as good for the earth and have a larger clientele and profit but that doesn’t fit with my values for this business.”
In the retail space, Ritz lets herself have a little fun, with heavy Bali influences from when she travels to the exotic getaway each year and some “slightly inappropriate but really fun” options, such as shirts emblazoned with “Be the change you wish to see up in this bitch” and coffee cups that exclaim, “Shuh Da Fuh Cup.”
Ritz confessed, “One of my few talents in life is that I am a really good shopper. If I can’t come into my store and get a laugh, I don’t want to sell it. We all need to laugh, especially now!”
Nothing is malicious, and the wares have done very well in her shop. Other offerings include clothing, clean beauty (no animal testing), furniture and jewelry. The Balinese company she works with empowers local women by teaching them a craft. Nashville products help a group of moms earn a living while they’re home with kids. One line of products helps to combat human trafficking. Everything has a health, social, or economic benefit tied into the products.
Food- and drink-wise, there’s a little of everything. It’s simple foods, mostly vegan. Teas, coffees and cold-pressed juices that promote immunity, muscle repair, energy, and detox are available. Jackfruit and tempeh lunch wraps or black bean burgers satisfy hungry appetites. Açai and other superfood smoothie bowls are made without artificial syrups or purees, and fresh pastries and avocado toasts round out the menu.
Ritz has many customers who come in wanting to get healthy or lose weight. They feel self-conscious to ask for healthier or vegetarian and vegan options at restaurants, so it’s of the utmost importance to the owner that her offerings are all-inclusive (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc. are all available), healthy and delicious.
“Most importantly, I want people to feel comfortable,” she said. “I know because I’m vegan, and I’ve gone to places where the reception to my requests is like, ‘Eh.’”
In terms of how to classify this smattering of freshness, sass and quality, Ritz says, “People don’t know what we are because we are a little of everything.” Miami folks come down for her infamous juice cleanses, people buy out her Barefoot Dreams blankets and locals stop by for their protein packer salads and superfood bowls.
Pandemic shutdowns helped Ritz realize her strong local following could sustain her business, and she repays that patronage with discounts for locals, police and teachers, anyone coming in from a workout class (she really promotes healthy living), and more. In January, she hopes to do something connected to pet adoption to support other causes she loves, too.
Overall, she’s grateful and happy to help her customers create a healthy, plentiful life for them and their families.
“We have something for everyone,” she said. “My husband and my kids aren’t vegan; they aren’t even vegetarian, so I understand the struggle to bring significant others towards ‘healthy.’ That’s why we want to make all this so good, we almost trick you into loving it and treating your body and the environment right.”