Sean and Karen Conley opened Amazing Yoga in 2001 "to celebrate life, community, and wellness." Thirteen years later, they opened the doors to a new community-building space: Amazing Café. The "clean eating" café attached to their South Side studio revved up its juicer in early February.
A café was in the Conleys' plans from the start, but they had to wait for the right space — and most importantly, the right people to help run it. As luck would have it, Mark Staley, an Amazing Yoga teacher, proved to be "super passionate about the food revolution, and one heck of a cook," Sean says. When the lower level of the studio's East Carson Street building became vacant, everything aligned for the eatery to come to fruition.
Amazing Café may become an oasis for Pittsburghers seeking what's commonly known as "California cuisine." The menu boasts fresh juices, smoothies, salads, entrees and desserts, all made with the freshest ingredients, such as the (super-tasty) "Spontaneity"— a "burrito" wrapped in greens with a roasted-walnut burrito filling, cauliflower Spanish rice, and red pepper-cashew sauce.
A San Francisco native, Staley used his extensive food experience — he's worked in restaurants and as a healthy-eating specialist for Whole Foods Market — to craft the café's menu. "This is what I do at home," he says, adding that the food remains purposefully simple so customers can taste it, read the listed ingredients and make it in their own kitchens.
"For me, this is an educational facility," asserts Staley.
Critics who believe that "health food" is inherently bland should try the flavorful winter squash curry served over heirloom black rice. Amazing Café blends its curry powder from scratch, mixing turmeric, galangal and fenugreek, and even toasting the cumin seeds in-house. For all those involved, that attention to detail illustrates why Amazing Café is simply an extension of yoga practice.
"Yoga is not about physical poses," Staley explains. "It's about building awareness and living a life of conscious choices."
The bright café's doors are open now, but look for the grand opening later in spring.