Anyone who has ever been in a gas station looking for road food or snacks knows that it’s hard to find anything healthy in those bastions of convenience along the interstate. Maybe a banana or orange by the cash register is about all that there is to be had that doesn’t come loaded with sugar or salt. But in Columbia, Sharon Wright, owner of Good Life Cafe, is trying to change that, one Pitt Stop and 7-Eleven convenience store at a time.
The change is that Good Life Cafe is now offering a selection of its signature vegan, mostly raw, offerings at four area Pitt Stops, with more locations possible in the future. Current items that can be found include muffins, cookies, pasta salad, chickpea salad, a Mexican quinoa salad, hummus and carrots, and about six types of smoothies. These items can be found in specially designed Good Life Cafe coolers on Augusta Highway near Lexington High School, U.S. 378, and Greystone Boulevard (all 7-Elevens), and on Old Cherokee Road and soon on Leaphart Road (both Pitt Stops).
This partnership came about when the convenience store chain changed ownership.
“The new owners, Applegreen, are from Ireland where the convenience stores have healthy options,” Wright says. “They ate at Good Life and share the visions that my business partner and I have.”
Some of these visions include eventually incorporating mini Good Life Cafes into the convenience stores, but that’s still farther out on the horizon for Wright, who encourages people who want to see the initiative expand into more areas to go buy the products and show support. She envisions that current Good Life fans will support its endeavors but also hopes to draw in new customers who haven’t heard of the restaurant.
“We are trying to let people know that you don’t have to drink a Red Bull and eat a honey bun when you stop at a gas station,” Wright concludes.
A West Side Market Experience
With the extensive upgrades to the parking lot at the corner of State and Meeting streets in West Columbia comes dedicated space for an open-air market where vendors gather on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The first market was held on Sept. 14.
The happening hosts 16 vendors and has a mix of artisan goods, plus prepared foods and produce. Many will be familiar vendors, such as Piecewise Coffee, Crêpes & Croissants, Hook Brothers Produce, and the Hot Mess food truck, among others.
The little market will run through Dec. 21, and will be open on Nov. 1 from 6 to 9 p.m. for the Fall Back Fest on State Street. “Vendors have created a nice sense of community and they tell me they appreciate the size of the market,” says Colleen Otte, parks assistant for the City of West Columbia.
Market shoppers are welcome to park in the lot between the shelter and Terra, which also allows access to the newly created interactive art sculpture park.