Kimberly Helms and Jared Stein were in L.A. with the touring company of the musical "Spring Awakening" and decided to poke around this newly cool neighborhood they'd heard about: downtown's Arts District. For Stein, it was an "aha" moment waiting to happen.
A pianist and conductor and longtime vegan, he'd been thinking for a while about how much he'd love it if he didn't have to travel from place to place for juice, raw food, cleansing. "The idea was in my head for a number of years. Why can't I just go to one place for all this?" Stein says.
So, as the New York couple – partners in business and life -- drove around, Stein says, "I stopped the car and said, 'This is it!' And Kimberly said, 'This is what?'"
He explained his idea, and after the musical tour, they quit their jobs and moved West in 2012.
"It" is the Springs, a place they're calling an urban oasis geared, Helms says, toward holistic healing and community.
The Springs, scheduled to open Saturday, sprawls over 13,800 square feet near Urban Radish grocery store and the restaurants, lofts and shops just east of the Greyhound Bus station. There's an intentional fudging between indoors and out, with huge cement block planters dividing the open space and tiny ones on tables, sweeping natural light and lots of blond wood.
In the parking lot and in the yoga studio Angelina Christina painted murals. Just inside, Atomic Garden from Oakland has a semipermanent pop-up shop of skin care products, linens, cards and other items.
Across the concrete floor is the juice bar, which also will have vegan ice cream and snacks. Stein says they'll offer unusual flavor combinations, with spices and herbs – not your ubiquitous kale-apple juice. The juice bar flows into the dining area, where lunch (salads and snacks) and dinner (more substantial, entrees $16 to $24) will be organic raw and vegan (except for a little honey), with beer and wine on tap. The Springs will serve cold brew coffee and teas too.
The dining tables, some communal, were made by a friend of Stein's and Helms', and the couple tried to find as many local food purveyors as possible, in addition to Blacktop Coffee and August Uncommon Tea. The chef is Michael Falso, also vegan, with consulting chef Ian Martin, who worked at M.A.K.E.
Keep going and there are several conversation areas with chairs and couches. Stein, 33, says he wants people to show up with their laptops, or stop with a friend for a glass of wine. It's meant to be a place for customers to hang out. A baby grand was headed for one corner, and Stein says he plans to play and hold music sessions, book signings and other events. The Springs recently hosted a workshop for "Goddess on the Go," part of New York-based Leora Edut's program of women-centered events.