C California Style

Chef Michael Falso. PHOTO: Joe Lengson.
Yoga instructor Gloria Baraquio will spearhead the yoga studio. PHOTO: JoJo Serina.
The Springs co‑founders Kimberly Helms and Jared Stein. PHOTO: Kirstin Johnson.


by C California Style

Downtown L..A. springs forth with a new outpost for the mind, body and soul.

“I was driving through the Arts District when I had this ‘aha’ moment of ‘We have to move here and make this happen,’” explains Jared Stein of the trip when he and his girlfriend, Kimberly Helms, first envisioned The Springs, an all-in-one, health-and-fitness oasis complete with a raw/vegan restaurant, organic juice bar, yoga studio and holistic wellness center. Stein and Helms had spent years living in New York working behind-the-scenes on Broadway shows before moving to Los Angeles in October 2012 with the hopes of creating a coffee shop-like outpost for Arts District residents—but focused on health and wellness rather than triple espressos and sugary scones. “The idea was: What if instead of walking to the corner to the juice bar, then riding your bike to the yoga studio, then going somewhere else for a massage, all of these things existed under one roof?” explains Stein. Helms describes the building itself, which previously housed a paper supply company, as a Garden of Eden-like swathe in the factory-filled district.

Designed by Catherine Johnson and Rebecca Rudolph of Design, Bitches, the 13,800-square-foot space is filled with ecofriendly furniture crafted from materials like recycled wood and pressed paper pulp, reclaimed white oak floors and repurposed CMA blocks for planters that add to the natural aesthetic without departing from the location’s industrial surroundings. “We wanted it to feel like you’re stepping through a space in the Arts District, not that the space was plopped down in it,” Helms says.

“I was driving through the Arts District when I had this ‘aha’ moment of ‘We have to move here and make this happen.'”

Next to the entrance is a 92-seat restaurant, where dishes are made using fresh, seasonal produce. A vegetarian since the age of 12, Stein says that the purpose of the eatery is to answer a need for alternative, wholesome fare. “People go to McDonald’s because that’s what they know and what’s easy,” he says. “If we create more places where healthy food is an option, I really believe people will make that choice.” The duo pegged chef Ian Martin (M.A.K.E., Planet Raw) to oversee the ever-changing menu, which will exclusively feature raw/vegan dishes—not to mention organic beers and keg wine.

The 100 percent organic juice bar, described as “a speakeasy for juices,” will serve rare fruit-and-veggie combinations in eco-concious glass bottles plus made-to-order smoothies and quick meals. Past the whirl of the blenders, Hawaii native Gloria Baraquio will manage two yoga studios with classes ranging from power flow and kundalini to yoga dance and restorative. Rounding out the oasis is an on-site wellness center offering a variety of massages (including Swedish, deep tissue and hot stone), holistic treatments such as gravity-based colon hydrotherapy to rid the body of toxins, Reiki energy sessions and detox programs by certified practitioners handpicked by Stein and Helms—plus a pop-up shop boasting natural skin-care products and handcrafted goods from Oakland’s Atomic Garden.

While The Springs will extend full-fledged memberships for the die-hard yogi/vegan/juicer/detoxers, both Stein and Helms say it’s more about creating community than prescribing a single dogma for healthy living. “We’re not trying to convert everybody to veganism,” laughs Stein. But once you walk inside and give it a try, you may just be convinced. 608 Mateo St., L.A.; thespringsla.com.

Written by Megan Meyer.