Before Cafe Gratitude, an outpost of the Los Angeles local-vegan-organic restaurant opened on Southwest Boulevard last year, Kansas City had its own homegrown groovy hippie-dippie cafe serving up nourishing food for vegetarians and omnivores in colorful downtown Overland Park.
Great Day Cafe is owned and operated by a pair of blissed-out escapees from normal day-job America, Greg and Sandy Tugman.
They are assisted by an unfailingly cheerful staff, so go on in and try the soup, which we will get to shortly. Another good reason to go is the free concerts Greg puts on from noon to 2 p.m. Where else can you hear live saxophone (and sometimes clarinet, flute and a ukulele) with lunch for five bucks?
While Greg handles the entertainment and the bookkeeping, Sandy presides over the kitchen and dining room like the Earth Mama everybody wishes she had. Her soups cure what ails you, especially existential blahs on a cold, damp day.
You could go every weekday for a fortnight and taste a different soup every day, and that would be a very good couple of weeks. Each day, a different two soups are offered, with one always vegetarian, for a total of ten.
The rotation of soups is listed on the cafe’swebsite
, with the lovable caveat that the lineup is subject to “occasional, whimsical change.” The menu also features sandwiches on Farm-to-Market bread, with half-sandwich and cup-of-soup combos offered.
Some of my favorite soups include Santa Fe Trail, a colorful beef-and-red-bean chili studded with corn; Sweet Potato-Blue Cheese, and Chicken Lime. A bowl costs $4.98 and comes with large seasoned crackers and an inspirational message. My most recent one read: “You never lose by loving. You only lose by holding back.”
I’m not holding back on my love for this place just because it is so popular at lunch time that it pushes right up against the 10-minute criterion for this column.
If you are in a hurry, you can call your order in for carryout. But really, you should just come back when you have time to savor the complex, slow-cooked goodness of the soups and quiches (which also change daily) and the climate inside the dining room, which is always sunny and warm.Great Day Cafe
7921 Santa Fe Drive
Facebook : Yes
10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 8 a.m.-9 p.m. on farmers market Saturdays.
Free on street
: Santa Fe Trail soup (Mondays); Sweet Potato and Blue Cheese soup (Thursdays)
Ratatouille (Wednesdays); one of the daily soup selections is always vegetarian
Ethics policy : The Star purchases all food sampled.