Vegans and yoga enthusiasts assert that their dining and exercise choices are a lifestyle, one that promotes the body’s connection to food and the earth. Nowhere in LA is that truer than at The Springs, a multi-faceted space that co-founders Jared Stein and Kimberly Helms call an “urban oasis”.
Following their fruitful careers on Broadway, Jared as music director and Kimberly as producer, the pair traded in the costumes and show tunes for downward dog and organic juices at The Springs. They transformed a vast warehouse in the Downtown LA Arts District into an airy, comfortable retreat. Offering yoga workshops, a raw vegan restaurant, fresh smoothies and ample space to cultivate community, The Springs is as dynamic as the duo that runs it.
In between sips of red wine and bites of sweet miso salad (the busy owners rarely catch a break to eat), Jared and Kimberly speak passionately about the holistic lifestyle, their journey to The Springs and their favorite vegan restaurants in LA.
What brought you to LA?
Jared: We moved here, to the LA Arts District, specifically to open up The Springs. When we were touring with Green Day’s American Idiot, we visited the Arts District. It had a very New York, industrial vibe that we were drawn to. LA was always a playground and this gave us the opportunity to see a different side of the city.
Before opening The Springs, what role did yoga and vegan cuisine play in your lives?
Kimberly: I have been a vegan for five years, a vegetarian on and off though college. I understood the principles of yoga and vegetables working together. When I changed my lifestyle, I noticed the beneficial things that happened in my life.
Jared: I became a vegetarian when I was 12 at summer camp. I had always had a problematic stomach as a kid, and though I’d try the vegetarian thing for a summer. Once I had done it for a month, I felt better, and never went back. I quickly realized that you can be unhealthy as a vegetarian, eating fries and pasta all the time. With The Springs, we wanted to make sure the vegan diet was nutritionally beneficial.
Why is LA and the Arts District a good place for a yoga/vegan retreat?
Jared: Nothing like this existed in the area. For awhile, people were moving to the suburbs. But now it’s a rubber band and people are moving back to the center of cities. We wanted to create a community centered around a healthy lifestyle that fosters human connection. We had the idea that vegan cuisine and social life can exist together and wanted to make raw vegan food more accessible.
Kimberly: In fact, 90 percent of The Springs patrons don’t consider themselves vegan. I like to say that we’re all vegan because we all eat fruits and vegetables. Vegans just don’t consume anything extra. The people that eat here enjoy the food and it just so happens to be vegan.
Other than the restaurant at The Springs, what are your favorite vegan restaurants in LA?
With your backgrounds in theatre, where are a few of your favorite places to watch a show in LA and favorite plays they’ve seen here?
Jared: We’ve seen a lot of shows at the Ahmanson Theatre. Kimberly actually continued to manage a number of their shows when we first moved here and started our build out of The Springs. We both loved The Scottsboro Boys, and more recently Deaf West’s Spring Awakening.
Where do you like to go to hear live music?
Kimberly: I love going to see Jeff Goldblum play with his jazz band on Wednesday nights at Rockwell Table and Stage.
Jared: I like to pop down the street to Villains Tavern and see who’s playing. We’ve also started building a pretty incredible roster of musicians here at The Springs so we don’t have to go too far!
Tell me about your favorite dishes and drinks at The Springs.
Kimberly: Juices are my go-to. I wasn’t much of a smoothie person until I tried the ones here. I really like the Ice Cap smoothie with mint and chocolate. The Caesar salad was the first thing I tried on the menu. It’s such a classic dish and we needed to have a good vegan version. The salty, briny flavor of the Caesar salad is amazing. For dinner, I love the Crab Rangoons stuffed with this creamy filling. It’s so dreamy.
Jared: I’m addicted to the smoothies like the Big Dipper and the S’mores—anything rich, creamy and chocolatey. The cheese plate with homemade macadamia cheeses is another favorite. It’s like a French-style cheese plate gone vegan.
Kimberly: And all the desserts. Especially the gianduja tart.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Jared: Golfing, spending time with friends, Crossfit and being active outdoors. Scholl Canyon is a great course for a quick round with some nice short holes.
Kimberly: Skipping off the Palm Springs for the weekend or to Malibu and the beach.
Tell me about the inspiration behind the decor.
Kimberly: Our inspiration was Palm Springs with its oasis elements meshed with a Wes Anderson film. We’re huge Wes Anderson fans so we incorporated pops of color and vignettes. Our original plan was to have a yoga space on the roof but the architecture didn’t allow for it. Instead, we opened the space up and brought in lots of plants to make it more welcoming..
Where is a cool place to take an out-of-towner?
Kimberly: The Magic Castle–if you’ve never been it’s one of the most fun nights out in LA. Amazing musicians and a really cool historical building in LA.
What’s on your LA bucket list?
Jared: We still haven’t hiked Runyon Canyon.
Kimberly: I’m looking forward to the LA River transformation and riding bikes along the river.
Originally published in LosAngeles.com.