Vegetarian cafe creates safe environment for students – Grand Valley Lanthorn

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Vegetarian restaurant Gaia House Cafe has reopened in a brightly decorated new location in the Creston neighborhood of Grand Rapids. The current owner encourages students to come and enjoy the food, drink and cozy lounge space which is dotted with works by local artists.

The original Gaia House Cafe opened in the 1980s as a vegetarian restaurant that cultivated an artistic and open-minded culture in its East Hills neighborhood building. This place which had become a beloved gathering place for the community closed in 2014. However, that was not the end of their story.

Current owner Andrea Bumstead worked for Gaia House Cafe for eight years before it closed. When the previous owner decided to close, she bought the rights to the recipes.

At first, her plan was to reopen in the original building, but when the building was sold, she began looking for other options. This opened the door for Bumstead to settle in Creston, a community that has shown him nothing but support throughout this process.

Creston is the largest neighborhood in Grand Rapids with 25,000 residents. Bumstead has lived in this area for about eight years. She said most business owners own their building and she has seen her business neighbors grow organically in this community.

“It’s inspirational to me because it kind of shows, no matter who you are or what your life journey is, that you can build what your dreams are in this space,” Bumstead said.

Bumstead said she sees something special in Creston that she doesn’t see in the rest of Grand Rapids.

“All of our business neighbors are incredibly connected and work really well together,” Bumstead said. “We host events all the time to support our community, neighbors, artists and business owners. You don’t see that much in the city, so for me it’s really important and sort of the backbone of what Gaia is all about and what we want to continue to be a part of.

GVL / Mary Racette

Gaia House Cafe has always wanted to welcome guests of all kinds. It doesn’t matter what a customer is wearing, what their profession is or if they are alone or with family, everyone is treated the same.

“It was just a safe and very open place for the community to come in and express exactly who they are exactly where they are and be accepted,” Bumstead said.

Art has always been a feature of the Gaia House Cafe, but Bumstead boosted the involvement of local artists when it reopened by collaborating with the Division Avenue Arts Collective (DAAC). In Gaia’s new space, the restaurant occupies the front and the back is used as gallery space for the DAAC.

“Moving forward, we just want to invite new artists, up-and-coming artists, or even those who are just testing the waters, and give them some confidence to show what they are capable of,” Bumstead said.

While customers from all walks of life are welcomed to the cafe, Bumstead hopes students will come to populate the space more often.

“We have this beautiful coffee and juice bar lounge that hasn’t really been used, but we built it for students to come and hook up and do their homework or hang out in our lounge space,” Bumstead said. .

Current staffing shortages prevented Bumstead from carrying out some of his plans. However, once staff are able to get in again, student discount days are on Bumstead’s radar.

Vegetarians and vegans are in their element at Gaia House Cafe, but the menu has something for everyone. The menu is a mix of items from the original menu and new additions added by Bumstead. One of the additions is the grilled cheese tortilla.

The Veggie Stash is the most popular dish on the menu, as well as the dish Bumstead said she craves the most. This dish was one of the original menu items that Bumstead kept.

The Gaia House Cafe has a long history behind it of food, art and a warm community. It’s only been open about seven months and has already attracted people through the art gallery and the classic vegetarian dishes.

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