2021 Newsmaker: Andrea Bumstead

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Andrea Bumstead

Owner

Gaia House Café

Persistence paid off in 2021 for Andrea Bumstead.

After a seven-year journey to buy the former Gaia Café from its previous owner, who closed the East Hills vegetarian eatery in 2014, Bumstead partnered with Charity Lytle, of the Division Avenue Arts Collective (DAAC), to buy the facility at 1553 Plainfield Ave. NE in Grand Rapids in early 2019.

The fundraising and construction process was a “struggle, specifically through the pandemic,” Bumstead said, but she found the strength to keep going.

“I have been supported endlessly by my family, friends and community, (and) the journey, although long and winding, has been filled with gratitude and serendipitous moments,” she said. “I specifically remember an evening in late 2018 where I had just ended a contract on our third building location, and I was exhausted (by) pulling resources that led to nowhere. It was in a moment of feeling defeated and wanting to surrender the project, when … I received a message from Charity Lytle, DAAC lead board member, asking if I might be interested in combining resources to purchase a building together.

“I remember the encouragement from my family to not give up and hearing my late Grandpa’s voice in my head saying, ‘It’s not over, my girl.’”

The front half of the building now houses Gaia, which opened in February 2021, and the rear portion is DAAC’s space.

Gaia’s ever-expanding menu includes original fan favorites, such as the mean green burrito and Gaia cookies, as well as brunch and lunch foods, fresh-pressed juices and specialty coffees.

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