The restaurant industry can be one of the most difficult, transient, and dare we say stressful businesses to get into. There are many reasons for opening a restaurant, but the common assumption as to why someone would get into this crazy career is twofold. It could be a passion or love of food, a community you desire, or maybe it’s the money. Unfortunately the money part doesn’t get you very far because a restaurant typically starts off as a labor of love.
When I first started working in restaurants I was in love with the people- the crazy characters who like to have a good time. Healthy? Not so much, but in the ways of work environments I believed it to be fit for me at that moment in time. It opened me up to my senses, my passion, my creativity and set me on a path that has ultimately defined my life.
I have always believed that restaurants should not only offer ambiance and beautiful food, but they should also be healthy. This isn’t really a novel idea anymore, but at the time that I embarked on my journey, style and health did not go hand in hand. Despite the now trendiness of this concept, few places have been able to do it successfully. Café Gratitude is one of the few that do, and they manage to still be so much more.
Café Gratitude serves delightful organic, plant based cuisine. Everything from Café Gratitude is thoughtfully prepared with love. They believe in supporting local farmers, sustainable agriculture and being a source of expressive aliveness. They invite their guests to celebrate life, experience being provided for and practice gratefulness everyday. It is through the “question of the day” that we are asked to come into the present moment and reflect on what we are truly grateful for.
My personal experience with Café Gratitude started in 2006, when I moved to California to pursue a career in raw food. Tucked away on the corner in the Mission District of San Francisco, Café Gratitude was definitively “hippie”- eccentricity ruled. Despite (or maybe because) servers dressed like they just returned from Burning Man, everything on the menu was a positive affirmation and random mariachi bands entered to play at dinner, Café Gratitude had that kind of hippie cool that begged you to be apart of. I have so many fond memories sharing meals at Gratitude in San Francisco when I was a lot younger, a little bit more naive, and incredibly enthusiastic. It all felt so exciting! Through a combination of family effort and outside visionaries, what Gratitude offered in the beginning has been elevated tremendously.
Now here I am almost 10 years later, living around the corner from their Venice location – and I find myself being super impressed with how well they’ve done and how far they’ve come. All while still staying true to their roots.
Gratitude has changed the way we think about restaurants, food, and community. They have created a shift in the common consciousness of so many people. Abundance on all levels.
All of us at Poppy & Seed have created memories at Café Gratitude- together and separately. What Gratitude represents serves as an inspiration to us- accessible health through all facets of life.
Matthew and Terces Engelhart, founders of Café Gratitude, continue to build a community through holding workshops that inspire others on a path to awakening. We had the opportunity to attend a Sacred Commerce workshop and leadership training they held at Esalen Institute in Big Sur earlier this year. This was a life changing experience for us. Learning how to hold space for others is much easier with the tools they shared. Communication is what allows us to connect and grow as a community, whereas miscommunication can lead to arguments, hurt feelings and on a massive scale, can even lead to war.
We realize that deep down, people are trying to express two emotions: I am love, or I need love. And since love is infinite, we can give endless amounts away and still have enough to love ourselves. Love is abundant. And it is in this abundance that we find solace. Matthew and Terces relationship is a true representation of what it means to love unconditionally. Their love is the foundation on which Cafe Gratitude resides.
More and more I believe that transparency and authenticity is what makes a restaurant successful. Of course there is behind the scenes minutia, but what Café Gratitude offers is unique. It is a feeling of being part of a vision, movement and cultural shift. Here in Southern California many of us are all familiar with the powers of manifestation, clearing space to invite abundance and possibility into our lives. Does it work all the time? I don’t know, but I no longer blush when I hear “the question of the day”-I ask for it.
Here are a few scenes from a beautiful lunch we all shared together at Cafe Gratitude’s newest location in Downtown LA.