story by Melinda Lejman | photos courtesy of Mama Gaia
What do you get when you combine an auspicious location, delicious ingredients, and a creative menu? Mama Gaia, of course! A concept that is new in and outside of Memphis, Mama Gaia offers fast-casual, healthy dining that is affordable and environmentally friendly. Located in the Crosstown Concourse, Mama Gaia is the creation of co-owners Cru and Philipp Von Holtzendorff- Fehling.
Originally from Germany, the couple and their family moved to Memphis five years ago by way of Seattle. For two months, this dynamic duo has been serving up delicious, made to order dishes from a menu created by Cru, a classically trained chef who was mentored at a Michelin star kitchen in Germany. From pitas to “petitzzas” to salads to hand-cut “fries” (baked, of course!), the menu contains 90% organic ingredients and everything on the menu is non-GMO. Completely vegetarian, anything on the menu can easily be made vegan as well.
With an average wait time of five minutes, it’s hard to believe the food can check off so many boxes while being so tasty and so good for you, but it’s all part of the design. The Mama Gaia concept is built around five main flavors that can be served up as pitas, petittzas, bowls or salads. “That was our way of ensuring we can do everything fresh and made to order, but don’t get overwhelmed and not be able to deliver the food fast,” says Philipp. “And there’s too much waste if you have too big of a menu.”
Mama Gaia has enjoyed a great deal of success during its first few months of business, with people traveling from as far as Collierville for a taste of the Mama Gaia experience. The restaurant space itself is bright and fresh, and is a reflection of the cuisine. When I asked why they chose the Crosstown Concourse for their very first venture, they told me it was because it’s such a unique location. “It has a better-together focus on health and community and doing good things, and that’s all what we’re about,” says Philipp. “We felt a natural fit.”
Another natural fit for the couple and their family was their decision to make Memphis their home. “People are really kind here. There’s something in Memphis I have not encountered anywhere else,” explains Cru. “To be a foreigner in a small town is very hard sometimes, so this is just the right size. Here, there is this really open friendliness that has been touching us a lot.”
Since moving to Memphis, the Von Holtzendorff-Fehlings have explored so much of what our great city has to offer, from art to history to our fabulous Memphis Grizzlies. “The spirit here is huge,” says Cru. “There’s really only good guys on the (Grizzlies) team. I feel like that’s Memphis.”
While Cru handles the more creative side of things, Philipp focuses on making the business successful. This includes the opening of a second space in the new Ballet Memphis building at Cooper and Madison set to open in August. This location will serve organic wine, local beer, and maybe even a few cocktails.
The Crosstown Concourse venue is open seven days a week and is the perfect spot for a quick and healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner. Trust this writer to tell you from personal experience, you’ll be more than satisfied with anything on the menu. Bon appétit!
For more info on Mama Gaia, visit www.mamagaia.net