Blue Phoenix Cafe set to open

Blue Phoenix Cafe & Market opens in place of the former Healthy Foods Market

Nuoya Zhou

Looking for another option to eat healthy, local food with friends in town? The Blue Phoenix Cafe & Market is a vegetarian café and market that is projected to open on Monday, March 7.

Blue Phoenix is located at the site of the former Healthy Foods Market, which recently closed after 43 years of business.

Amenie Hopkins is the manager and chef of Blue Phoenix. A native of Lexington, Hopkins grew up eating healthy, local food and has close relationships with a lot of the farmers in the area. Hopkins majored in Environmental Studies at Hollins University. Though Hollins University did not offer a Food System major at the time, she took every single class they offered on the subject.

“With my degree and my educational background, sustainability is a huge thing,” Hopkins said. “Sustainability and health are all so interconnected. You can’t separate them out.”

The meaning behind the name of the café comes from Hopkins’ experiences and feelings toward the food business and the notion of healthy eating.

“The ‘Blue’ part comes from the restaurant where I got my start in food business, the Blue Heron,” Hopkins said. “The ‘Phoenix’ part is just sort of relating back to the idea of healthy food and recognizing what a beautiful place that was and trying to continue the same spirit going forward.”

All of the staff worked at Healthy Foods Market before it was closed. The staff had a good working relationship together and has been friends outside of work for years. Hopkins calls them “ex-workers,” which she described as an “anarchist” term.

“I guess in a way it is almost a protest against this extreme capitalist work culture that we find ourselves in where there is very defined hierarchy,” Hopkins said. “Most of us come from service background, so we are the people at the bottom of the pyramid, and most of us had horrible experiences because of that.”

Hopkins feels that the label “ex-workers” empowers the staff to have a sense of ownership about their jobs and about the café itself.

Blue Phoenix Café also cares for the local impoverished people who suffer from hunger. The café  has an “Everyone Eats” policy to make sure that all customers are provided for.

The policy consists of three tiers. The first tier is for the people who are able to pay the full price, and the second tier is purchasing a meal at cost, which includes the costs of the ingredients and time it took to cook the meal.

“And then the third is obviously for free, and it comes out of the pool of donations basically people who have purchased meals at cost,” Hopkins said. “Unless it’s an extreme case, we are not going to give [a] free meal unless somebody put into that fund.”

Blue Phoenix Café also offers a Buyer’s Club membership, which allows members to special order organic and natural foods and products at a discount. Typically, the markdown for food is anywhere between 35 percent to 75 percent off of wholesale.

Hopkins said that the café looks forward to building a community through food. The centerpiece of Blue Phoenix is a living room and there will also be live music and art shows.

Some W&L students, including Yishu Wen, ‘16, were familiar with the formers Healthy Foods Market but look forward to Blue Phoenix’s opening.

“I used to hang out there a lot with my friends,” Wen said. “I do look forward to eating there! They have delicious options!”

Christina Cheadle, ‘16, agreed with Wen.

“I’m looking forward to it since I loved Counter Culture Cafe,” Cheadle said. “I hope they bring back the breakfast sandwiches!”