Garden of Eat’n: Food for Thought and Creativity
Garden of Eat’n (6293 Quinpool Road, Halifax NS)
Garden of Eat’n, a restaurant, bar and art/performance venue, has been open for two years. Despite being on Quinpool Road in Halifax, where one establishment can blend into the next, owner Ebby Gholami has and is determined to defy the odds (some research suggests 60% of restaurants fail within their first three years.)
Ebby and his team are already off to a great start serving up their culturally eclectic breakfast, lunch and dinner menus of tapas, mains, specialty drinks and desserts. Ebby says everybody who has come in has been very happy—there is just the desire and need to expand their ‘audience’.
Glancing at the Garden’s guest book confirms the many customers who have loved the ambience and food of local and international flavours.
Ebby Gholami, owner of the Garden of Eat’n
For Ebby his vision from two years ago remains the same: he wants his restaurant to be more than just a place to fill your stomach. He wants it to be a hub for the community to meet, be socially aware, to celebrate art, multi-cultures …to get people talking again.
From the local art and poems lining his walls to the music and film events he’s already hosted, the Garden is indeed becoming that space, that salon…that Café Nadari—a place for free thinkers and expressers—he remembers from his days in Iran.
“The hours easily drift by in places like this. Calm serenity eases through the faces of all who enter and surely on all those who leave. Bellies full of the best food this city has to offer…truly.” ~ Excerpt from Garden of Eat’n guest book
“Our food and coffee is love and a true celebration of spices, flavours, colours and aromas symbolic of the cultural diversity present in Halifax’s community,” says the Garden of Eat’n’s Facebook page. “Garden of Eat’n Buddha Bar & Cafe takes pride in serving you delicious cuisine from different cultures.”
Food described as love might sound like a marketing gimmick or even a little hokey, except when you actually talk to Ebby and encounter his genuine passion.
Ebby grew up in Iran one of 11 children. He often helped his mother cook for their large family, as well as prepare ingredients from scratch, like harvesting tomatoes from their garden, drying them in the sun and mashing them into paste. Ebby recalls many fond memories sitting together with his family and relatives sharing a meal.
It is these experiences that have influenced a part of the Garden of Eat’n’s menu—recipes, passed down through the generations, of diverse and colourful spices and herbs, produce and proteins—as well as an atmosphere of sharing he longs to and has already begun to provide.
The Garden also offers Mediterranean, Acadian and other locally and internationally inspired dishes, as well as vegetarian and gluten-free options.
To keep the Quinpool Road establishment open hasn’t been without sacrifice, however. Financial pressures and long hours have been struggles, Ebby says. They’ve also had to adapt, through some trial and error, in order to gauge what creates the best customer experience, without compromising the underlying goals of “healthy social dining”, “evolve locally” and creating a diverse community hub.
“Love it here, thank you. Every time I eat here, I try something different and each time it is delicious.” ~ Excerpt from Garden of Eat’n guest book
“If somebody knows better and it can help us, we are always open to learn and get feedback,” says Ebby. “We are constantly evolving to try and incorporate healthier dishes and to use local and organic ingredients as much as possible”.
The Garden will have new food and drink offerings soon, such as daily lunch and supper specials, happy hours (including non-alcoholic and alcoholic freshly squeezed juices) and a late night menu. Their large patio, on the side and front of the restaurant will also be open all summer.
“This place is absolutely epic and makes me incredibly happy. Thank you for your gluten free options and amazing service…” ~ Excerpt from Garden of Eat’n guest book
“I invite the artists to come use our space and make a difference,” says Ebby. “It brings people together. It’s not enough to get together and be drunk in a bar and hitting on someone. Instead it’s about real conversations.”
The Garden has opportunities for writers, poets and authors, visual artists, musicians, actors, filmmakers and other creators and performers to showcase their talent; even professors and intellectuals can come give talks. The walls have already started to fill with local art and they have audio-visual equipment, including a sound system and screen.
Artists are welcome to make use of the space for screenings,
performances, concerts, readings and more!
“Gearing up with our late menu and more bar options, our goal is to host something every night,” says Ebby.
Ebby says they do not have one fixed formula and are open to discuss any ideas artists and presenters have for use of the venue.
The end goal is to promote and celebrate artistic expression, where those in the audience are encouraged to reflect and discuss. “We want to make it really creative, imaginative and for it to have good energy, but relaxed with no pressure,” says Ebby. “By just seeing that good flow of energy, I know good things can happen.”
“Thank you for the amazing food, soulful conversations and somewhere I feel I can always come home too. You are all wonderful, beautiful people and I am forever grateful for finding this little piece of paradise.” ~ Excerpt from Garden of Eat’n guest book
Two years ago, Ebby said one of his main objectives for opening the Garden was people—to create one of the “arteries of Halifax’s heart” where everyone, no matter their age, race or lifestyle could come and interact.
“Part of my mind is always focused on that social aspect of our responsibility in life,” said Ebby during a recent chat. “I want social awareness in myself. I would like the opportunity to talk to others to learn from them. I think we’re missing those kinds of social opportunities.”
Ebby says his main pre-requisite for hiring staff is that they want to contribute to the positivity of the space. As a result, he feels blessed to have the people he does as part of his team. “I tell my servers be yourself,” he says. “We don’t have any specific way of serving, like placing plates on the table from only the right side or the left. I tell them just to feel yourself and give that good and accepting energy to your customer.”
“We want to continue to offer a place where people feel as individuals that they are important and where they can meet others,” says Ebby. “Some people might prefer to be within themselves, and not interact, and that’s okay too. We are doing our best to create a place, with the food and ambiance and activities, to give customers a great and different dining experience.”
“Magical adventures are to be had here among friends and lovers.” ~ Excerpt from Garden of Eat’n guest book
If you are an artist/performer/presenter and would like to find out about how you can showcase your talent at the Garden, you can call, e-mail or drop in (6293 Quinpool Road, Halifax NS) and talk to Ebby or any of the staff.
Coming Up at Garden of Eat’n
Saturday Summer Slammer
This Saturday (May 31, 2014) 9pm – 2am
Entertainment includes music from Halifax’s Official Night Owls, live performances, DJ and the launch of the new bar menu.
FIFA World Cup
June 12-July 13, 2014Enjoy watching the World Cup games at the Garden with happy hour drinks and a special World Cup menu.