Rare Variety Cafe, a new vegan restaurant at 4622 Main St., is trying to bring more food choices to the North Main community by not only being a vegan cafe, but by providing a grocery store as well. 

“This is a food desert and people don’t have access to adequate food and so we found this to be the perfect spot for what we do,” Keithrick Alexander, owner of Rare Variety Cafe, said. The grocery store is set to open in early 2019. 

Alexander said he wants to give the community healthier food options. The cafe’s menu will include southern fried cauliflower and a lasagna made with mushrooms, red peppers, green peppers, and bell peppers.

Rare Variety Cafe is part of a food hub and initially started as a co-op with Axiom Farms Cooperative, which is an agricultural marketing cooperative designed for farmers and the communities they serve. Rare Variety Cafe will also teach cooking classes, nutrition, yoga, and whole body health. 

 Alexander said that he’s there to help provide a ray of hope for the North Main community, including displaying a George Washington Carver mural outside of his cafe. The mural has this uplifting message, “Where there’s no vision, there’s no hope.”

Sabrina Odom Edwards, the executive director of the North Columbia Business Association, said she is excited about the opening of Rare Variety Cafe because area residents have few choices for fresh food. 

“Well, since (the zip code) 29203 is a food desert we don’t have that many supermarkets or farmer’s markets where fresh fruits and vegetables are provided,” Edwards said. “This cafe will be definitely another access for them to get the product, and also it’ll be great because it’ll offer fresh fruits and vegetables and you can eat in the same place.” 

 Alexander said he wants to feed the mind, body, and soul of the community.

Keithrick Alexander, owner of Rare Variety Cafe, said his restaurant will provide healthy food to Columbia’s North Main community. 

Sabrina Odom Edwards, executive director of North Columbia Business Association, is excited about the fresh food choices that are coming to the community.