A former East Hills staple reopened in its new home following a yearslong journey to put down new roots.
Andrea Bumstead, owner of Gaia House Café, reopened her vegetarian eatery at its new location at 1553 Plainfield Ave. NE in Grand Rapids’ Creston neighborhood with a soft opening last weekend.
The menu includes original fan favorites, such as the mean green burrito and Gaia cookies, as well as fresh-pressed juices and specialty coffees.
Currently, Gaia is open for takeout only from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Bumstead said she plans to hold a grand opening and extend service to indoor dining when the state of Michigan allows restaurants to reopen at full capacity.
Bumstead partnered with Charity Lytle, of the Division Avenue Arts Collective (DAAC), to buy the building in early 2019. The front half houses Gaia, and the rear portion is the new home for DAAC. Bumstead walked a long road to purchasing the café and reopening it after former owner Rick Van Dam abruptly retired and closed the former location, at 209 Diamond Ave. SE in East Hills, in 2014. She launched a Kickstarter in 2017 and was seeking investors for years before securing a location.
“I have been supported endlessly by my family, friends and community, (and) the journey, although long and winding, has been filled with gratitude and serendipitous moments,” Bumstead said. “I specifically remember an evening in late 2018 where I had just ended a contract on our third building location, and I was exhausted (by) pulling resources that led to nowhere. It was in a moment of feeling defeated and wanting to surrender the project, when the very next day, I received a message from Charity Lytle, DAAC lead board member, asking if I might be interested in combining resources to purchase a building together.
“I remember the encouragement from my family to not give up and hearing my late Grandpa’s (who was also a restaurateur) voice in my head saying, ‘It’s not over, my girl.’ I quickly rallied for a meeting, and within months, we partnered on a building, which now not only houses both our business dreams but gives us room to grow within the community.”
Bumstead said the construction process throughout 2019 and 2020 was a “struggle, specifically through the pandemic,” but with the café completed and now open, she and her family have “finally been able to shift into just being in the kitchen and producing the best local fare we possibly can.”
Gaia’s website is under construction. People can follow the café’s updates and announcements at facebook.com/GaiaCafeGR.