Cafe Gratitude opens in Little Italy

L.A.'s gourmet vegan restaurant chain Cafe Gratitude will open its first store in San Diego on Wednesday morning, and local plant-eaters have pop singer Jason Mraz to thank.

The Oceanside-based Grammy winner, longtime vegan and passionate urban farmer is a major investor in the 11-year-old company, which operates three restaurants in L.A., as well as locations in Santa Cruz, Berkeley and Kansas City, Mo.

The new Cafe Gratitude will open at Broadstone, a mixed-use development at 1980 Kettner Blvd. in Little Italy. The 4,000-square-foot restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Chef Dreux Ellis’ “all day” menu includes items like house-made raw granola, buckwheat-flax pancakes, yam cauliflower samosa chaat, collard spring rolls and macrobiotic grain bowls. The chain also makes fresh-pressed juices, nutritious elixirs, almond milk tea lattes and organic fruit smoothies, and it offers a detox and cleanse juice programs.

After 5 p.m. each day, the menu is expanded to include entrees such as cold ramen noodle salad, asparagus risotto and flatbread made with einkorn and kamut grains. Evening diners can a three-course prix fixe tasting menu with optional organic beer and wine pairings. The restaurant also serves house-baked desserts including Key lime pie and strawberry shortcake.

Menu items are named after affirmations like “I Am Grateful,” “I Am Whole” and “I Am Crunchy,” reflecting the restaurant’s philosophy to cultivate a supportive environment for guests, a core part of Café Gratitude’s original founding in the Bay Area in 2004 by Terces and Matthew Engelhart, who run the organic Be Love Farm in Vacaville.

Each store buys its produce from local organic growers. Mraz owns a 5-acre avocado ranch in Oceanside. Though most of his fruit is sold to the Chipotle chain, which is also devoted to sustainability, maybe a few of his avos will make it south to Little Italy.

“We are so inspired by the incredible community and dining scene in San Diego. There is so much positive energy in the area with new restaurant openings, and we are thrilled to be part of the evolution " says Lisa Bonbright, CEO of Café Gratitude Southern California.

The company will expand later this year with another location in Newport Beach. For more, call the local restaurant at (619) 736-5077 or visit

Source: DiscoverSD