History of Gaia House

Kathryn Caliendo opened Gaia doors in the Easthills district of Grand Rapids, Michigan as a poetry coffee house enticing writers, musicians, and artists alike to collaborate together in creating the backbone of their neighborhood safe space that still rings true today.

Gradually the community created a following towards the space and Caliendo invited chef, Rick Vandam, to work on his culinary ideas which would lead the coffee house into a cafe with humbled plant based ingredients and becoming Grand Rapids first and only vegetarian restaurant.

As years went by, Gaia Cafe became an institution to the growing Grand Rapids community of all walks of life.

Fast forward to August 2014, Vandam made the choice to close the doors to the beloved cafe and pursue his agenda in a new light. Long time employee, Andrea Bumstead, sought for ownership, branding, and recipe rights immediately in hopes to continue business “as is” under new ownership. With much negotiation, Vandams wishes to sell the historic location that left Gaia Cafe without a home.

By bootstrapping resources, Bumstead launched a successful Kickstarter campaign and went on a mission to find a new location. In early 2019, Gaia struck up a partnership idea with The DAAC, another long standing Grand Rapids institution, and together they were able to purchase a vacant property in the Creston Business District. Over the course of the next two years, Gaia and DAAC teams worked together to renovate the 4900 square foot 4 unit building up from its studs. 

In February 2021, Gaia Cafe returned to its roots in becoming Gaia House Cafe offering a safe space for all and community art focused with the same loved menu items from the past 30 years as well as introducing newly created brunch offerings and a coffee and juice lounge.

Welcome to the revamped Gaia House Cafe!