Veggie Vibes

Life-altering circumstances led Cynthia Olmstead and Dionette Kalkhofer to live a healthy vegetarian lifestyle — and the results they experienced inspired them to share their discovery with the world at Om Garden.
Text by Jillian Lobato Photo by Antonio Eli | July 10, 2018 | People

The proverbial “Om” takes on new meaning at Om Garden, where relaxing surroundings meld with good food and healthy auras to create a vegan and raw food destination unlike any other right on the outskirts of Brickell. And, of course, there’s the pink fire hydrant that welcomes guests as they enter. “It was candy-apple red when we got it, but it didn’t go with the décor so we painted it very vibrant pink,” laughs co-owner Cynthia Olmstead. “It’s become quite the conversation piece!”
Upon launching Om Garden at 379 SW 15th Rd., Olmstead had been living the “raw” lifestyle for years, while her partner, Dionette Kalkhofer, had just come off a 50-pound weight loss after deciding to go vegan. “My new lifestyle and habits carried me on a path to raise awareness,” says Kalkhofer. “With Om Garden we are trying to create a brighter future for the generations to come through our interconnection to the planet, animals and each other.”
So far, the response has been overwhelming. “We haven’t done any real advertising and yet have grown quickly by word of mouth,” says Kalkhofer. “I’m certain it’s because everything on our menu is made from scratch!” Among the more creative dishes they offer are Mystical Mushr-Oms, Spring Has Sprung Rolls, Seven Seas Seaweed Salad, Nature’s Harvest Wrap, Happy Cow Veggie Burger and Soul Shake. “The Rainbow Roll and Peace Pizza are the two entrees that people flip-out over,” says Olmsted, mentioning The Lady Bug Juice (a.k.a The Twister) as another favorite. “We’re thrilled to see the responses when our food touches the lips of a client for the first time — it makes all the hard work worth it!”
Complementing the menu are foam-green walls, jutting bamboo stalks and a series of vibrant plants. “We have clients that have been coming here since Day 1 and they come and eat every day because they can’t get this food or ambiance anywhere else,” says Kalkhofer. “After just one meal, you’ll feel lighter, have more energy and think better.”
What’s more, the owners make it a point to tread lightly on the planet, using only biodegradable containers, practicing recycling and composting on all waste, carrying eco-friendly products for purchase and steering clear of any ingredients that have been processed in any way. They also help raise awareness of green initiatives, organizations, programs and projects by providing relevant information to their clients. “Om Garden is a place where you can come in to not just eat, but to nourish your mind, body and soul,” says Kalkhofer.
Eventually, these green professionals hope to incorporate solar and wind energy into their business. Both Olmstead and Kalkhofer know there’s much more to be done to help others see the benefits of this lifestyle and all the positive effects it can have on someone’s life. “Right now, we’re getting ready to start a delivery service for Brickell, and we’re going to also be holding several cooking classes and alternative healing workshops,” says Kalkhofer. “Regardless of what the future holds, we will always practice the fundamental principle of our mission statement: Om Shanti Om — peace for all living beings.”