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The Self Examiner

Sharing is very important to us at Cafe Gratitude. This blog is our means of connecting with you, our community through sharing what's happening with us and creating a conversation around the many facets of this community.
Tags >> Behind the scenes of Cafe Gratitude


Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 

1 John 3:17-18


One very chilly afternoon last week a friend and I passed an hour in one of Northern California’s classic bastions of peace, love, and vegan, organic, raw, local, sustainable food served up in haute hippie style (need I mention that we were in Berkeley?). Menu items in this café, it must be understood, are named for declared graces. Thus, after repeating our order for two cups of “I Am Cozy,” our waitress—festively attired in a paisley dress, argyle knee socks, and a purple crocheted crown—said, “I’ll be right back with your tea. Meanwhile, today’s question is: What can we give away today?

She spun on her heel and left, leaving us to think what, indeed? The masses of stuff in my life began to slog in dreary parade past my mind’s eye. My friend wondered aloud if maybe the better question wouldn’t be, “What should we actually keep today?” Inspired, we set to making lists, which naturally began with loved ones (I’m happy to report that after the merest moment of hesitation, our respective teenage children made the cut).


These are interesting times. There is great sadness among our community as many long standing employees are let go as we shrink our business to manage the financial hit we took with all the legal issues. There are also some wonderful new opportunities opening up and being created for some of those employees who are moving on. The upcoming closure of our Oakland location, inside of Whole Foods is a big disappointment for all those people struggling financially during these times who have been getting an I  Am Grateful Bowl daily for a very small donation.  The employees staying on with us in Berkeley, Santa Cruz and Gracias Madre are relieved. You can see that there is a great mix of feelings and emotions amongst us all.

We are working together to continue to support one another during these times and deeply appreciate you coming by for a meal and some of the LOVE Cafe Gratitude is known for.



Café Gratitude’s new menu hits our stores today, and what better way to close up shop than to bring back some of our favorite items from times past.  Here’s a rundown of the changes:

Some of my favorite raw entrees are back on the menu – ‘I am Terrific’ Pad Thai sports a complex palate of basil, mint, and scallions over a bed of crunchy noodles and greens in a creamy almond thai sauce.  This dish is easily my favorite special of all time, and one I won’t soon forget.  ‘I am Giving’ Kale Salad also returns, and with a bold ginger tanini dressing that definitely outdoes its predecessor.


With great sadness we are announcing the upcoming closing/sale of all Northern California Café Gratitude’s.


A series of aggressive lawsuits has brought us to this unfortunate choice. Although we believe that we have done nothing wrong and our policies are completely legal, it will cost us too much money to defend them in court.  Despite telling the attorneys that brought the lawsuits that the current structure and resources of Café Gratitude are insufficient to sustain and defend our community, they have refused to give up and are forcing us to close.


This week, I would like to share with you about the experience of loss.  I have been very present to loss these last few weeks.  I’ve been noticing the faces of people on the street – thinking that I see someone I know, and startling myself back when they are not there.  I’ve been daydreaming and catching visions in the leaves, rolling my mind around times that have past.  I became aware, in those musings, that there would be a time when I would look back on today, on this present moment in my life, with the same longing that I feel now for other times.

“Impermanence is not a theory. It’s happening every moment.” – Thich Nhat Hanh


If working a full-time job in production does not take enough toll on a mother's life, she has a 2nd job going home after work - taking care of her spouse and children.  Millions of women in our society do what needs to be done to handle it all.  With fast growing, lovely and smart children, our forever joyful kitchen staff, Nelly Lizama not only juggles this challenge well, but also assists other people needing help along the way! 
When I see Nelly's teenage daughter and her 'tres-amigos' - Isabel, Nancy, and Margarita - tidy up our offices and cocina-central each week, I am touched by their consistent, quiet hard work to keep the work space clean, pleasant and eco-friendly !  Sometimes, I bring them a Horchata or give them a Cafe Gratitude gift card I purchased on payday to dine after work.

So, to Nelly, who is always smiling and singing while making Soups, Crackers, preparing Vegetables, etc. in the Cafe Gratitude Kitchen for over 5 years, I say....."Gracias Madre" !


Leadership training this weekend was so inspiring. Matthew and I kept on saying to one another, "look at_________(we could fill in so many names), how amazing they are!" What a powerful group of leaders out in the world fulfilling on their commitments! What a tremendous community they are. This was their final weekend of an eight month course, with people gathering from all over the country. I am so grateful for each one of you.
Winter mornings and nights have us warming up around a campfire. Leche is starting to show signs of an upcoming birth, and we are so excited. I'll keep you posted.
Persimmons and pomegranates are just about ready for picking. Walnuts are off the trees drying in the barn. Our wine has been filtered once and the flavor is amazing.
Our community is seeing legal threats as an opportunity to crank up the love! How wonderful is that? We couldn't have asked for better partners for keeping our attention on gratitude!
Love you all,


Today was the annual Pachamama Luncheon and we hosted four tables! Our friends, partners and community came out in powerful numbers to support one if the most Important causes of our time! Thank you all so very much.

The farm has brought in all the chilies now along with cabbage. Romaine and tomatoes have survived our first frost!

Cafe Gratitude had it's best month ever last month while at the same time holding space for our biggest challenge and trusting the outcome, no matter what.

We thank and love you all.


Click Here to learn more about the Pachamama Alliance.

Click Here to view the full luncheon on their website.


After working on a Saturday afternoon and evening to catch up with accounting projects, I decided to go home to Vallejo, taking the Ferry at Pier-1, SF.  


The Occupy San Francisco encampment was receiving so many food donations last week, they had to turn generous people away. Across the nation companies, organizations and individuals have shown their support for the Occupy movement by contributing supplies to the camps of people who now occupy public zones in reportedly more than 1,000 U.S. cities. These citizens are not merely erecting tents and staying the night, however: there is incredible organization going into the demonstrations. Many encampments have their own first aid tents, communications areas, and, of course, food tables. All the effort going into creating these temporary mini-cities reveals how popular the movement has become in the month it’s been active.

How did Occupy Wall Street begin?

The Canadian anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters first proposed the idea of occupying the New York financial district in late summer of this year, circulating a poster showing a dancer atop the Wall Street bull and posing the question, What is Our One Demand? Since the protests began September 17, many demands have emerged, including ending corporate personhood, raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, shrinking the income gap between rich and poor, and reforming campaign finance laws. With its strident and raucous anti-capitalism stance, we could have expected Adbusters to launch a fringe movement that would fail to capture the hearts of a majority of citizens; however, widespread anger at the state of the economy and exploitation by corporate power have caused the movement to move towards the mainstream. Time magazine, for example, recently reported that 54% of Americans approve of Occupy.

Where does Cafe Gratitude fit into all of this excitement? Well, if you haven’t heard, our LA location just trucked a big batch of Grateful Bowls over to Occupy Los Angeles to feed the people camping outside City Hall (see the video below!). Ryland Engelhart, general manager at Gratitude LA, explained that he sees the Occupy movement as a call for unification from people across the country. Americans are feeling separated from each other and from our institutions, he says, and this may be a chance to bring us all together to improve our society. Luckily, the tent village in the City of Angels was still in need of food, so Ryland was not turned away and protesters got to enjoy delicious organic vegan meals!

We can connect food to the Occupy movement in more ways than simply feeding the demonstrators, however. A great article in Mother Jones has just been published, illustrating how the financial industry is not the only economic behemoth that has been consolidating power and causing angst for the majority of Americans. The food industry, the article claims, is even more consolidated and monopolistic than the financial sector. For example, just four companies produced 75 percent of cereal and snacks, 60 percent of cookies, and half of all ice cream in the U.S. in 2002. And since then, not much has changed, although the food movement is gaining steam, and will ramp up its power this October 24, the first-ever National Food Day.

Here’s hoping that the people on the streets keeping eating well, and that we can all start understanding that we’re going to need a movement as powerful as Occupy Wall Street to reform our current food system!

Gratitude !

We love the expansive feeling we get from cultivating an attitude of Gratitude.

What are YOU Grateful for today ?

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