Café Dreams


Life Alive in Cambridge, MA

When I first went vegan, I fantasized about opening a plant-based café. I even dragged my husband all over Southern Orange County looking for the perfect location for my restaurant.

When I got serious about the idea, I contacted the owner of Life Alive, my favorite vegan restaurant in Boston, to chat with her about restaurant ownership. She invited me to spend some time working in her kitchen and off I went. My time in the Life Alive kitchen, however; squashed my café dreams. Restaurant ownership was hard!

That was awhile ago, and I thought my café dreams were over, but I’m thinking about it again.

Here’s how it happened…

Yesterday I made my first vegan cheese, An Unrefined Vegan’s Cashew Coconut Cream Cheese. The stuff was amazing, better than dairy cream cheese for sure. And it’s a cinch to make. Just whip the ingredients and let it set in the fridge.

This got me thinking about how easy it would be for bagel shops to add vegan schmears to their offerings. Since we live in an omnivore world, however; I assumed few bagel bakeries would bother. This bummed me out.

Then I thought, maybe I should open a vegan bagel bakery. I could sell healthier bagels made from sprouted whole grains and a variety of nut-based schmears. I could even make healthier versions of espresso drinks like vegan mochas sweetened with dates.

Oh no, here I go again!

Photo courtesy of Carrots ‘N’ Cake.


About celestedimilla

Hey there. I’m Celeste, California girl, writer, psychotherapist and burgeoning plant-based foodie.
This entry was posted in Daily Life, Dining Out, Recipes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

94 Responses to Café Dreams

  1. M-R says:

    Personally I believe anyone as beautiful and healthy-lookins as you, Celeste, could open a roast cabbage diner and it’d work. All a matter of your belief in yourself …

  2. How fabulous!! Do it! Don’t look back and regret not giving it a go x you’ve got so much knowledge to impart and fab recipes to utilise, you should share it xx

  3. A question: does the recipe need the miso?

  4. Namrata says:

    Celeste, its very important to dream and hope and want. I love this feisty spirit of yours. Just work on your desires and you never know, it might just all work out for you. All the best and believe in those dreams and desires 🙂

  5. Hi! I have nominated you for the Butterfly Light Award! Check it out over at my page: 🙂

  6. LOL I have done the same thing 🙂 great minds think alike 😉

  7. bikerchick57 says:

    If you opened a plant-based restaurant or a bagel shop in my area, I would be one of the first visitors…especially to try your cream cheese. It sounds fabulous. Go for it, Celeste, if that’s what you want.

  8. dhbg says:

    A vegan bagel shop is genius! Love it.

  9. Laura says:

    What a neat place! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Life Alive? Wish that had been there when I lived in Cambridge! But then again – when I lived in Cambridge, I wasn’t yet vegan…hmmm. Thank you for sharing my cream cheese recipe, girl! I’m thrilled you liked it. And I also occasionally have dreams of opening a small restaurant/bakery/coffee shop. But then I remember that I live in the boonies and that it’s a challenge just to get three meals a day on my own table :-). But it’s a fun fantasy. You, on the other hand…would make a fantastic vegan bagel shop owner! And I would DEFINITELY come visit!

    • You’ve lived in Santa Monica and Cambridge? Wow – you’ve been around chica!! I still don’t know how you managed to settle in the boonies, but maybe one day I’ll have to come visit you there and see what you see in it. I hear you about just getting three meals a day on the table – I struggle with that too!! I doubt I’ll ever open a restaurant – I’m really too lazy for all that. It’s fun to dream, however. Celeste 🙂

      • Celeste – I think the reason I live in the boonies is because I moved so darn much!! Now I’m a homebody :-). You must come to Oklahoma City. We’ve got a beautiful raw/vegan restaurant courtesy of Matthew Kenney. And if you like coffee, we have some great roasters, too.

    • Oh, and if you ever get back to Boston, do check out Life Alive. You’ll love it! 🙂

  11. Stacey says:

    GOGOGO! You could do it, my dear!

  12. and in one area of the cafe will be a small stage where we can have open mike poetry one night a week and maybe a musican on the weekends…I will help out with the entertainment open mike nights.oh and book readings too….we can even have a screen to show classical movies…we can call the Cafe….CasaVegan Cafe (like casablanca–the movie) what do you think celesete. I too have thought about having a coffee shop……….

    • Hahahaha!!! You’ve got this all planned out Ivonne. Maybe you should open a restaurant chica. Honestly, I’m too lazy to open a restaurant. I’m just dreaming. If you ever opened your lovely CasaVegan Café, however; I’d hang out there all the time. It sounds amazing!!!! 🙂

  13. This is one of my dreams also!!! My biggest fear is making sure you make enough to keep your life and restaurant afloat! If you do open one, I’ll definitely come out and help! 😉

    • Hey Janice! I’m not serious about opening a restaurant – I’m too lazy to work that hard. If you’re serious about it, however; I suggest working at a restaurant first. It really is HARD! This doesn’t mean it’s not worth it if it really is your dream. If this is your passion, I hope you go for it. I don’t care where it is either, I’ll come check it out for sure!! Celeste 🙂

      • After reading Kitchen Confidential, I’m not sure I want to own one. It’s costly and really difficult. The hours are insane also!

        We’ll see, looking into taking a few classes then possibly try and get my foot in the door at a local little bistro on the weekends – if I find time!

    • Keep me posted Janice!

  14. Poppy says:

    I definitely think you should pursue your idea Celeste! Definitely a niche!! 😃

    • I’m just dreaming Poppy!! What I really wish is that someone else opens a vegan bagel bakery so I can hang out there. I’m getting excited about your visit, and I’ll make some vegan schmear when you’re here. Celeste 🙂

      • Poppy says:

        Hahaha that made me laugh out loud! You should sell your idea to a businessman/woman! 😉

        I am SUPER excited! Counting down the days! Can’t wait for schmear and kale salad, I need lessons! 🙂

  15. Violet says:

    Celeste, if you opened a plant-based cafe or a vegan bagel bakery, I would totally make it as my first stop to visit in California! 😉 I support you, and think your idea is absolutely super fantastic!! Remember: anything is possible if you put your mind to it, believe it and have passion for it! 🙂 xo

    • California will be lucky to have your lovely lavender self here for a visit. Unfortunately, you probably won’t make it to my bagel shop because I know I’m toooooo lazy to really open a restaurant. I’m just dreaming. 🙂

  16. Kayse says:

    Celeste, that’s a fabulous idea! I’d probably fly out there just to try it 🙂 If you do pursue that dream, I can’t wait to hear about it!

    • Thanks so much for your support! I wish I had the energy and motivation to really open a restaurant, but I’m seriously too lazy. I’m just dreaming!

      • Kayse says:

        It’s one of my dreams (or fantasies, rather) to own a farm-to-table restaurant. I just don’t need the stress of restaurant ownership!!

  17. BloomLisa says:

    You are a visionary!! Trust your intuition and see where it takes you. But yes, as you said the restaurant business is hard and not for the faint of heart. I look forward to seeing where it takes you. Perhaps a Vegan Cream Cheese Company that sells to retailers could be an option?!?

    • You are such an inspiration Lisa! Your words are encouraging, rational and creative! If I’m honest with myself, I know that opening a restaurant is not what I want to do with my life. I did consider just marketing schmears. I thought I could start by selling them to local bagel and vegan restaurants and maybe at farmer’s markets. I don’t know it that’s what I want to do either, but I’m gonna give it some thought. Celeste 🙂

  18. Yes Celeste, go go go girl 🙂 There is such a need for this – I see a franchise 🙂

  19. uberdish says:

    Oooh, love your restaurant/bakery dream! Can you bring it to my area please?! I’ve had a similar dream since I visited my very first vegetarian restaurant – nearly 26 years ago, now – in London, England. It was so quaint, beautiful and had to-die-for food. Not sure if I will ever fulfill that dream. I love my away from work time too much! So, I’ve settled for cooking for the family instead. Congratulations on making your first vegan cheese! 🙂

    • I think I’m like you and will only be dreaming about it for the next 26 years. Don’t know that I’ve got it in me to really open a restaurant, but it’s fun to dream. Celeste 🙂

  20. I think a vegan bagel shop is a wonderful idea! And I think your dream of opening a vegan cafe is an excellent one, but I am biased because I’ve had that same dream 🙂 The world needs more people like you, so I truly hope you go for it!

    • I think I’m too lazy to actually open a restaurant. I wish that wasn’t the case, but I have to be honest with myself. If you open a restaurant, however; I would so come and hang out there. The world needs more people like us (and some people who actually open vegan restaurants too – hehe!). Celeste 🙂

  21. Roxy Bendele says:

    Good luck Celeste!,

    Any business is hard to start and to maintain but (that is why not everybody has one) but if you love what you are doing and have a purpose like yours is a must to go for it. I will be waiting for your progress post on this business.

    • Thanks so much for your support Roxy! I don’t think I’m actually gonna open a restaurant, I’m just dreaming. What I really wish is that someone else opened a vegan bagel shop so I could hang out there. Celeste 🙂

  22. diahannreyes says:

    Please make the bagels gluten-free and you can count me in as a customer.

  23. If you had a cafe, I would absolutely come visit you! 🙂 I have to say, though, NYC has caught on with the vegan cream cheese. In the majority of my favorite bagel shops they offer a tofu cream cheese – and it’s really not that much different! So if the cafe doesn’t work out, you could just move cross country and still get a good schmear with your bagels. 🙂

  24. Sophie33 says:

    I think you should follow your Dreams!!! Go on, my friend, you can do it! It would be a lovely place to sit & relax & eat some decent vegan foods & drinks! Now, if you would live in Belgium, I would come to visit you weekly, for sure. Xxx☺️

  25. Mike Lince says:

    Celeste, I love your idea. I also respect that you spent some time working in a restaurant kitchen and you have a clear idea of the work involved. Whether you launch your own restaurant or not, I hope your vegan bagel spreads find their way into the marketplace. This strikes me as the right product at the right time for a customer base already chomping on the bit… I mean, bagel. – Mike

    • Thanks for your support Mike!! I honesty don’t know that I’m gonna start a business, however. I’ve been there, done that and I think I’m too lazy to go there again. But, who knows! Celeste 🙂

  26. Keep dreaming! You’ll think of SOMETHING that fits, chica!! Also, I had never heard of the vegan place in Boston. Looking it up now! I’ll be going to that great city soon to visit my son!

    • You’re gonna love Life Alive Susan! They have three locations, one in Cambridge, one in Lowell and one in Salem. I’ve been to all of them and have always been satisfied. I will mention that my husband and I didn’t like their coffee drinks, but other than that it’s always delicious! Celeste 🙂

      • I passed on the information to my son, who works at the Omni Parker House (while going to school). He’s concierge there. I’m always passing along any Boston vegan information just in case he comes across any vegan guests! He appreciated the information and tells me he needs to beef up (ha!) his knowledge of the Cambridge area especially.

    • Oh great – I’m sure your son will love it! 🙂

  27. Ralph says:

    I’ll taste your buns any time Celeste 😉 ❤

  28. Hi Celeste! Hope you are doing well.. The reason I disturb you tonight is this – I would be delighted if you accept the “I am part of the Word Press Family Award”
    a VERY EASY Award, just pick 10 people I ask you keep the quote in.
    Should you not accept could you PLEASE pass it onto a friend who will…

    More love, less hate
    Carina ~ Wolf is my Soul

  29. Ramona says:

    If you don’t feel ready for the store/cafe’, then maybe your real calling is to sell the type of food you’d like to eat in a vegan cafe’, such as your cashew cheese. Some places, smaller businesses, might love to offer these items even if they cannot make make the food themselves I can see a food line in your future…
    🙂 Ramona

  30. reocochran says:

    I am not sure where or when I commented on this, but I noticed somehow even my ‘like’ button wasn’t on anymore! Sorry, Celeste! I really have read the ones I just went back and pressed like again on! Anyway, I have always wanted to be a café shoppe owner! I would even have antique items to feature the old fashioned way of life, enjoying and ‘shooting the breeze’ over coffee and a treat! I have one daughter who could make the healthy choices and one who is excellent with the more unhealthy choices! This was a sweet idea, love the photo that you borrowed, it has a beautiful wall of mosaic tiles. We have a café called, “Something Sweet Bakery and Coffee Shop” in Delaware, Ohio. I recommend you try making something and soliciting local places to sell. It would be a great way to introduce people to delicious vegan foods.

    • Thanks for your support and belief in me on this matter chica! I bet you would be a wonderful café owner. You’re friendly and have a good head on your shoulders. But you probably realize, like I do, that owning a café is really hard work. I guess that’s holding us back.

      You’re not the only one who has suggested that I try selling vegan cheese to existing shops. I’m sure this is easier than opening a restaurant, but not without it’s headaches. It’s something I’m considering, so we’ll see. I hope you had a lovely Easter! Celeste 🙂

  31. Brenda says:

    Bakeries are hard work, too. Thanks for dropping by friendly fairy tales and liking my Cherry Intoxication. I’m afraid I’m not vegan. My second son is allergic to nuts, beans and seeds among various grains. Too many food allergies all over the place among my hubby and me, too. But if I could come back allergy free, I might very well decide to be vegan. It seems like such a good philosophy. I’ve often wanted to open an ice cream parlor, but I think eventually the sight of all that ice cream would make me ill.

    • I wanted to open an ice cream parlor when I was younger. I guess I’ve been dreaming about opening a restaurant for a long time!! I don’t think I’ll ever do it, but it’s fun to dream. Thanks for your lovely comment!! Celeste 🙂

      • Brenda says:

        I serve dinner nightly, but only to 5. And that occasionally feel oppressive. I don’t think I’m cut out to run a restaurant. I like changes, variety, something new, am looking around the next corner always. But I love to eat in restaurants, so I’m happy to come to yours!! 🙂

      • Hahaha – we sound so similar about opening a restaurant. Some people might say we’re lazy, but I’d say that we’re smart. 🙂

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