A healthy café has just opened on Montana Avenue across from Whole Foods with a mission to introduce fun, nutritious foods to the community.
Pulse Café at 1426 Montana Ave. opened Thursday, Nov. 29, a few days after the location’s former tenant Valen Dolce closed.
Debuting with a vegetarian menu, Pulse recently widened its menu options after customers asked for turkey to be brought back to the café location.
Tanya Chen, owner and long-time health advocate, was hesitant at first but wanted her customers to be happy.
“We hope they will try our new foods, like hot smoothies and quinoa muffins,” Chen said.
Since the almond and soy milk base for the smoothies is freshly brewed from scratch every morning, Chen and her team at Pulse are able to serve hot smoothies, like “Comfort,” “Be happy,” “Buck the trend,” “Paradise,” and “Superstar.”
“It’s perfect for this weather,” Chen said, who recently moved to Santa Monica from the greater New York City area. “People are hesitant, but after some persuasion, they all end up really liking the taste and feeling they get from a hot smoothie. ‘Comfort’ is the most popular of the hot smoothies. ‘Dating anyone?’ is currently the most popular smoothie of all the smoothies.”
Chen said she uploaded weekly stats on its website’s blog section with rankings of their most popular smoothies.
Pulse also added Boba to the menu, which they serve customized without using artificial powders, after hearing demand from younger customers.
“We want to keep the local community happy,” Chen said. “We want Pulse to be a fun place for food and ideas.”
Chen, who has a background in finance, has been experimenting with different, natural ingredients for most of her life.
Last Christmas Day, her mother died of pancreatic cancer, which she suspected was partially due to bad diet.
After reading “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell, a book that has influenced former president Bill Clinton’s plant based diet; she and her daughter adopted the health plan into their lifestyle.
She said it had been beneficial, giving her a lot of energy, which she hopes will translate to her customers as well.
While following the diet, she bought a machine that converts soy beans into soy milk and started adding fresh fruit and vegetables to make smoothies and began offering them to friends to try. With rave reviews, the idea to begin Pulse Café was born.
Chen researched possible locations and came across the Montana Avenue vacancy, which she liked as it was across the road from Whole Foods and next door to Yoga Works.
She was able to keep on the chef who worked at Valen Dolce because she wanted the employees to keep their jobs. She developed a 100 percent vegetarian menu to compliment her unique smoothies.
“Valen Dolce used to serve really great Turkey sandwiches that people loved and a lot of customers came back the first few days and were not so happy about not having any of the old sandwiches with meat,” Chen said. “We told them to try the Portobello mushroom sandwich and some of them tried it, but they really wanted their turkey back.”
Chen pushed forward with her vegetarian-only menu, adding a vegetarian burger and other veggie meatballs and chicken sandwiches to the lunch menu. After continued requests from customers, this week she returned Turkey sandwiches back to the menu.
However, she has currently has an online competition to encourage people to submit their own vegetarian dishes with the winner receiving a smoothie party for 10 people and the dish will be added to their lunch menu.
“We are looking to introduce more innovation based options,” Chen said. “We are also going to have guest speakers come in and talk about healthy things. We want to make it not just a place for food, but a place for ideas.”
Chen said all of the smoothies use soymilk-brewed daily using non-GMO certified soybeans. She also brews almond milk daily every morning and has introduced gluten free baked goods like quinoa muffins.
Pulse Café is open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information about the Café and its online recipe competition that runs through Dec. 28, visit www.westsidepulse.com.