Food Notes 

Community coffee

Community IMPACT! Nashville and Bongo Java have teamed up to create a coffee delivery program with a social conscience. An online store at allows customers to place orders for delivery of one-pound bags of coffee to their offices. Funds raised from this student-run effort will benefit East Nashville youth while providing them with hands-on business skills.

Community IMPACT! Nashville, founded in August 2000, is a youth-focused, neighborhood-based, nonprofit organization dedicated to the educational and economic empowerment of young people. It is the local affiliate of Community IMPACT! USA, a national youth investment network founded in 1990. Since its inception, CI! USA and its affiliates have generated more than 300 scholarships and trained hundreds of youths in leadership skills. Executive director of CI! Nashville is John Hilley. Bob Bernstein, owner of Bongo Java, Fido and Bongo Java Roasting Company (BJRC), has been a supporter of CI! Nashville since its inception.

This spring, CI! Nashville engaged the assistance of the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University, and three MBA students came up with the coffee concept. The delivery service is operated by two CI! Nashville members, Stratford High School student Angelah Browne and East Literature Magnet junior Roger Matthews II. Four types of coffee—including a decaf—are available to purchase, and deliveries are made to the downtown and midtown areas within three to four business days. All coffee beans are organically grown and purchased by BJRC from small farmer groups.

The coffee sells for $11 a pound, with at least $2 per pound going directly to scholarship funds for participants. The total number of scholarships awarded so far from CI! Nashville is 25 in just two years of operation. For more information on CI! Nashville, visit or call 226-5899.

Veggie tales

Grins (pronounced “greens”) is Nashville’s first exclusively kosher restaurant, but so far the bulk of its customers have been attracted by the creative vegetarian and vegan fare offered for breakfast, lunch and take-out.

Grins—Yiddish for “vegetables”—is located in the entry foyer of the new Ben Shulman Center for Jewish Life on the Vanderbilt campus; the contemporary-looking building was designed by Manuel Zeitlin. The restaurant is the result of months of team planning between Vanderbilt Hillel and Vanderbilt Dining. It will be operated by Bob Bernstein of Bongo Java; Rabbi Yitzchok Tiechtel of the Center for Jewish Awareness and Rabbi Michael Merdinger of Sherith Israel will monitor the kitchen to ensure Grins is fully kosher. Kosher is not a style of cooking, but rather a set of Jewish dietary laws dealing with what foods can be eaten, how they’re prepared and how they’re consumed.

The chef is Michelle Watkins Knaus, a former personal chef and cooking instructor. Coffee, tea and other beverages, as well as on-site baked muffins and breakfast foods, are available in the morning. The setup is similar to a small cafeteria, with a hot and cold case. Fare varies daily, with vegan and vegetarian entrees, as well as salads, soups and sandwiches. Knaus mixes traditional foods with a wide range of ethnic influences, including Italian, Mexican and Asian. Some recent offerings included Mexican rice with spiced black beans, curried fruit couscous and grilled lemon-sesame barbecue tofu.

Grins is at the corner of 25th Avenue South and Vanderbilt Place, across from Memorial Gym. It is open 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. Metered parking is available on site.

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