Only a few months after Café I Am opened in The Vanda House in Sandy Springs, it had to shut its doors to the public because of global health crisis. But that didn’t stop its South African sibling owners from getting word out about the offerings of this “European-inspired healthy eatery and expresso bar” in the form of sweet deliciousness.
The café’s sister-brother team, Vanda and Miguel Teixeira, along with supporters have been donating wholesome, organic, made-from-scratch cookies to a handful of hospitals in North Fulton and first responders. So far, the café and its team of volunteers have donated about 1,800 cookies with such flavors as peanut butter chocolate chip, granola white chocolate and almond white chocolate.
“Everybody needs a treat and to remember what’s good,” said Vanda Teixeira, for whom The Vanda House is named. It was previously a boutique in Buckhead that featured spiritual tools, literature, healing salts, sage and gem jewelry, she said. Café I Am opened in November in the Sandy Springs location.
The idea for donating cookies to those on the frontlines of the health crisis stemmed from a relationship The Vanda House had with area hospitals through support of the International Nurses Club, Vanda said.
The campaign also was the result of a similar effort in South Africa when her brother started his baking venture. By donating cookies to the community, it jump-started his fledgling operation, Vanda said. “The cookie business came out of the generosity of his heart.”
Of the current cookie effort, she said, “Sharing the goodness of cookies brought out the goodness of people’s hearts.”
The café also received donations and support from organizations such as The Packaged Good, another Jewish-owned social action business. Vanda team volunteers created cards expressing thanks for the first responders and helped assemble the bags of cookies delivered to the hospitals. “Our community came together to support our frontliners and just show our love and support, … and keep our café energy running high as much as we possibly can in these intense times,” Vanda told the AJT.
Café I Am bills itself as “consciously aware,” with healthy food that is “changing the game when it comes to consciously inspired eating on the Atlanta food scene,” according to its website.
“The taste for exquisite food and drinks was passed down to Vanda and Miguel, as they are both from a family of restaurateurs.”
Vanda explained to the AJT that the legacy of wholesome “goodness” comes from the siblings’ grandparents, who brought their Portuguese recipes to South Africa. The Teixeiras, in turn, share that influence with Atlanta, Vanda said.
When it was open, the café served food free of preservatives, gluten, pesticides and genetically modified ingredients. In addition to the cookies, the menu included locally sourced salads; panini and other sandwiches on fresh breads; teas, including those with CBD (cannabidiol); and coffee from Italy. At the end of the week, the café featured authentic Portuguese South African food or POSA, Vanda said.
While waiting to reopen, the “cookie run” seems a worthy pastime, she said. “What we can we do at this time is focus on people. We believe it will come back.”