Passionate about sustainability
What: Cafe Rawganique
Where: 429 Peace Portal Dr., Blaine
WHEN: 11am-6pm daily
Info: (720) 899-4367 or http://www.rawganique.com
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
With Blaine’s first-ever vegan cafe opening quietly last month in a space formerly occupied by Subway and a pizza shop, residents and border crossers now have a selection of super-healthy meals and beverages to fuel their day.
The new cafe is two-thirds retail store, selling apparel made from organic cotton, linen and hemp, and one-third restaurant, with 24 seats inside and a deck under construction out back. For now it’s open from 11am-6pm daily, but there are plans for a dinner service by next year, possibly sooner. Rawganique is applying for a liquor license and plans to offer organic wine and beer out on the deck, overlooking the harbor, and a small, European-style herb garden.
Step inside and you’ll never believe how beautifully the 2,500-square-foot space has been transformed over the past nine months. Gleaming bamboo flooring is accented by wood on the walls for a warm, bright, welcoming space. Windows have been made larger and sunlight pours through the cheerful, well-organized store and cafe.
While there are lots of interesting products on display, the retail space feels open and uncluttered. In the cafe, beautiful wood tables and chairs invite diners to stay a while, and the menu, quite different from any other offering in Blaine, is tempting. Come for smoothies, soups, salads, rice and lentil bowls, scones and muffins. Everything is healthy, vegan and well-suited to those with a variety of dietary restrictions.
While the retail space and cafe are new, Rawganique has been operating as an online boutique since 1997 and has a warehouse just up the street. Its founders, Quo Yong Fu and Klaus Wallner, wanted to offer alternatives to synthetic and chemically treated products and their selection ranges from garments to soaps and even mattresses.
Their story is an interesting one. The two were living in New York City prior to 1995 but were yearning for a simpler time—a lifestyle inspired by philosopher Henry David Thoreau. They left for Denman Island that year, built a log cabin off the grid and equipped it with furniture and textiles they made themselves.
When others started asking how they could source similar products, Rawganique, an online retailer and wholesaler, was founded. The company’s products are manufactured by approximately 70 artisans in Romania, Canada, and the United States, and all are free of formaldehyde and other toxins used in the mainstream garment industry.
Wallner and Yong Fu relocated to Blaine two years ago and operate the warehouse, retail store and café together.
“Our Rawganique lifestyle store completes the whole concept of real clothes and real, organic food using products that are fresh, local and organic,” Yong Fu said. The goal, Wallner added, is to “give customers organic options for everything, and open them up to the whole raw and organic lifestyle.”
I sat down for a smoothie and a scone with Anj Jones, front of house manager for the cafe. The baked goods I tried had been made earlier that morning by Silva Gore, who previously owned Blaine’s Seaside Café and Bakery for 20 years. She’s responsible for the delicious pies, cinnamon rolls, banana breads, muffins, cookies and scones at Rawganique. The café also offers sandwiches featuring hearty slices by Avenue Bread, and healthy rice and lentil bowls with lots of toppings.
“Come for local, organic food with a great view of the estuary and the bay,” Yong Fu said. “We have a great team and we’re passionate about sustainability, so diners can rest assured that everything we use is fully compostable and planet-friendly.”
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