Thrive’s Fresh Film Series: Gone Too Soon

Since August, the U District’s Thrive Cafe, a vegan, mostly-raw, and “almost entirely allergen-free” restaurant has hosted the Fresh Film and Speaker Series at Central Cinema. Each event included a screening, a three-course lunch catered by the cafe, and a Q&A following the film. I had such an illuminating experience at last month’s screening of May I Be Frank—a finely curated event that incorporated a touching film, wholesome food, and a charismatic speaker—that I hoped to post a blog about it today in advance of what would be the fourth installment of the series this coming Sunday.

But when I reached out to Thrive’s owner, Monika Kinsman, with some questions about the next film, I was told the series—which was slated to screen Hungry for Change, Forks Over Knives, and Vegucated in forthcoming installments—has been cancelled. The cafe has come on some hard times, Kinsman says.

“We’ve had some challenges and have had to make some layoffs, for financial reasons,” Kinsman says. “It’s difficult to say if we’ll [reprise] the series, but we hope so.”

Kinsman wouldn’t go into detail about the layoffs, but the owner, who started the Raw Network of Washington that she eventually absorbed into Thrive Cafe, was working in the kitchen when I called. “It’s just a hard time of year right now,” she says.

The price tag of the Fresh Film Series—$50 per person—was hefty, but for such a veg-positive city—and last month’s well-attended screening—the series appeared a success for the nearly five year old cafe, which functions as an unofficial gathering place for vegans, vegetarians, and the veg-curious (and in addition to its film series hosts cooking classes, speakers, and educational events).

But Thrive’s Facebook page continues to report a downturn of events; according to recent post, another speaker, Dr. Alan Goldhamer, was cancelled “due to low attendance.” The cafe has also posted cutbacks in operating hours.

Kinsman reassures, “the cafe is still open.” Sadly, the awesome Fresh Film Series, and movies like May I Be Frank, a compelling documentary that follows the transformation of a man through diet, lifetyle, and love—screened alongside an eye-opening raw, vegan meal—are over, at least for now.

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