Say so long to ever finding a parking space again on Venice’s Rose Avenue, as Cafe Gratitude opens today at 11:00 A.M. By now, you probably know all about Gratitude and its devoted following for the chain’s fully organic, vegan dishes served under feel-good names that would make Staurt Smalley blush (will it be the "I Am Present" today or an "I Am Peace" to go?). The hippie-dippy Northern California empire first opened in L.A. in March 2011 with a Larchmont location, serving three daily meals using produce from its own farm that racked up raves from Jessica Gelt in The L.A. Times and celebs like Jake Gyllenhaal and Steve O, who told Grub Street the place "is fuckin’ dope." Indeed, the eats at Gratitude are pure, tasty, and energizing enough to almost make us forget all those CraAzY accusations that it was tied up with the allegedly cult-y Landmark Re-Education and acting kinda creepy towards non-believers. Almost.
Coming to Venice, despite residents’ long-held resistance to chains, makes too way much sense. While the seaside city’s streets are increasingly looking like a patchwork of the haves and have-nots, the latter demographic’s herd of yoga mat-toting, stroller-pushing, wine bar-jocking whiteys is the one packing disposable income, ahimsa appetites, and a quenchless thirst for fresh juice, trendy raw foods, chia seed crepes, cashew butters, colon-cleansing, organic beer, and nutrient-infused water. Whole Foods, it would seem, was just a toe in the water.
Cafe Gratitude will definitely draw a crowd from around the Westside and keep them coming back for the Kool-Aid quality and perceived health benefits. Whisk in a few hundred Google staffers to the neighborhood, and we might as well be living in The Bay. Unfortunately, "I Am Barfing" is still not an option here.
Fortunately, there does still exist a dwindling scatter of shelters from the gentrification on the lower half of Venice, allowing even the rawest, non-organic variety of Venetian the ability to say "I Am Transformed," with a shot and beer chaser at Hinano. Just enjoy it while you can, dudes, as developers are always looking out for signs of life.
Cafe Gratitude, 512 Rose Ave. Venice.