Cafe Gratitude’s Southern California locations, from San Diego to Venice, reflect a certain evolution of vegan cuisine, both in the kitchen and in the dining room.
A haute bohemian chic aesthetic is key to the brand, which is about to open its sixth location in Beverly Hills, and also operates Gracias Madre vegan Mexican restaurant in West Hollywood.
To achieve this distinctly California vibe, interior designer Wendy Haworth has closely collaborated with Lisa Bonbright, the chief executive for the cafe’s ownership company Love Serve Remember, on all but one of the group’s restaurants. (Haworth’s portfolio also includes Winsome in Echo Park, the newest Cleo location at L.A. Live, and Felix, which is chef Evan Funke’s forthcoming restaurant in the former Joe’s space on Abbot Kinney.)
But Haworth is equally comfortable with creating residential interiors, so she has gradually transformed the Beverly Hills home that Lisa and her husband, Chris, a principal of the real estate firm Avison Young, bought in 2000.
“Wendy nails it every time,” Lisa Bonbright said of her decade-long working relationship with Haworth, adding that they know each other so well “we finish each other’s sentences.”
The Bonbrights have brought Haworth back over the years — since circumstances change and shift — to update the sumptuous house built in 1950. Since the Bonbrights’ daughters now live on their own, what was once a family house is “an adult house now,” Lisa said.
The master suite remains downstairs as it’s always been, but Haworth redesigned rooms upstairs to remove elements that the self-described empty nesters no longer wanted. A welcoming mid-century influenced sitting area in the landing that suits all generations, however, remains.
Lisa’s parents are from Southampton, N.Y., where she spent a lot of time during her childhood, so she likes her environs to feel “sort of Hamptons-y — all open and green.” That said, both tradition and a contemporary sensibility comfortably coexist here.
Much of the furniture is custom built, and Haworth scours antique sources and design shops across the city, such as JF Chen, Blackman Cruz, Blend Interiors, Adesso and Downtown on La Cienega Boulevard. Silver Lake-based Ames Ingham designed the dramatically oversized cast iron and glass dining room chandelier.
The “pavilion,” an outdoor covered structure located within the yard that’s the work of local landscape designer Scott Shrader, is the center of the Bonbrights’ home. (Shrader also collaborated with Haworth to create the buzzy patio at Gracias Madre.) From that space, “everywhere you look, there’s something beautiful,” Lisa said.
When taking on a new restaurant project, the Bonbrights and Haworth like to look further afield for inspiration. Some of this research also winds up influencing elements in their home environment.
“I like my master bedroom to feel like a hotel room,” Lisa said, pointing to the calming white palette and the seating area, as well as a bedside table that can double as a work station.
Despite working with Haworth for all things commercial and residential, Lisa sees a distinction between the two spheres, and likes her home to have its own stylistic identity. So, macrame weavings are best displayed in Cafe Gratitude dining rooms, while standout pieces by artists such as Retna and Charles Arnoldi are part of the Bonbrights’ art collection at the house.
Over the last few years, the couple have combined work and play by entertaining friends in their restaurants, but they’re making an effort to enjoy their home again.
Lisa noted how after a recent dinner party, “I was reminded of how much I love it. After everyone left I said to my husband, ‘We should be doing this again!’”