Mama Gaia, a start-up fast-casual organic vegetarian restaurant that opened in Crosstown Concourse in March, will open its second location inside the new Ballet Memphis headquarters in Overton Square in August when the facility celebrates its grand opening.
“We wanted to expand the concept, but it was not the plan from the beginning to open a second location so soon,” said Philipp von Holtzendorff-Fehling, who started the restaurant with his wife Cru Peri, who is Mama Gaia’s chef.
“We love Overton Square, and we think there are a lot of people who are open to this type of food," he added.
Both Mama Gaia locations will offer a fresh, artisanal vegetarian menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as several vegan and gluten-free options. Chef Cru Peri, who trained in the prestigious Michelin Kitchen in France, has created a vegetable-heavy menu with items that will be handmade to order using organic ingredients, meaning they are neither genetically modified nor have they been exposed to any chemicals such as herbicides or pesticides.
The menu at Mama Gaia Crosstown features several types of pitas, quinoa bowls, appetizers, salads and soups and options for kids. Six flavors of organic soda are also available.
The menu for Mama Gaia at Ballet Memphis will be more compact and offer select food choices each day as well as coffee drinks, wine, beer and a few cocktails. The cafe will be open to the general public.
“The lifestyle of ballet dancers and students fits very well with our offerings, which are healthy, delicious foods,” said von Holtzendorff-Fehling. “At the same time, our space there will be very accessible to everybody.”
The 900-square-foot space includes a small prep room and kitchen in the back, as well as additional patio seating out front in the corner plaza area and inside the Ballet Memphis entrance.
“Our Crosstown location is much bigger and has a large kitchen, so we will prepare our fresh sauces every day at Crosstown and then drive them over to Ballet Memphis,” said von Holtzendorff-Fehling.
He expects to hire five or six employees for the new restaurant, and some of Mama Gaia’s existing staff from Crosstown are likely to also work at the Ballet Memphis location.
Architects at archimania and general contractor Grinder, Taber and Grinder, who are both working on the buildout of the main Ballet Memphis facility, are also working with Mama Gaia to help get it up and running.