The new Axum Market Café is officially open in the Dr. Phillips YMCA — with an emphasis on eating well and living well. The facility, at 7000 Dr. Phillips Blvd., is revealing a new look following a $9.5 million transformation, funded through Dr. Phillips Charities.
The Winter Garden-based Axum Coffee is operating the new café, which will offer farm-to-table meals, fresh-pressed juices, salads, wraps, bowls and healthy snacks.
Josh Taylor, of House Blend Cafe in Ocoee, is general manager of the Y café.
“This cafe is all centered around healthy eating and teaching people to eat healthy, buy healthy and cook healthy,” Taylor said. “We will use ingredients that are as local as possible. We will be grinding our own whole grains.”
The cafe will serve as a place for the YMCA to inform guests about healthy food choices.
“We want to educate (the community),” said Daniel A. Saginario, vice president of brand and cause advocacy. “The YMCA is more than just a place to work out. … This is thinking past what the Y used to be known for. This will allow us to make a bigger impact on Dr. Phillips.”
Chef Gary Appelsies is the director of healthy eating. He said he and a team worked together to create a plant-based menu that promoted nutrition and local and organic food.
What are his menu favorites? The Mediterranean Pizza with fresh ground grains and dough made daily, the Axum Bowl featuring salmon and curried vegetables and the Axum Market Salad. His go-to drink is the Basil Berry Bliss Smoothie.
According Renaut van der Riet, Axum founder and lead pastor of Mosaic Church in Oakland, 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit local and global initiatives that center on social justice, food, clean water and family health.
“Axum Market Café is about more than enjoying delicious, healthful food,” van der Riet said. “It’s also a place where people can join around a cause, a purpose, a way to improve their lives and the lives of others.”
Adjacent to the café is the Y’s new Healthy Living Teaching Kitchen, where local chefs, including Appelsies, and nutritionists will demonstrate how to enjoy healthier meals.
“We take foods people enjoy and help them prepare it healthier,” he said.
Orlando Health, a provider of health and wellness programs at five area Ys, has expanded its presence through a concierge desk where Y members can schedule physician referrals, health screenings, clinical rehabilitation and more.
Contact Amy Quesinberry Rhode at [email protected].