"Food is my way of expressing gratitude."
Juliana believes that spreading love and feeding people is a singular idea.
Juli grew up in Bogota, Colombia. Her mother was a nutritionist and she learned to cook when she was 15 years old. “Food is a way to bring people together, to say thank you, to invite them into your home, to welcome them,” she says. After extensive hospitality training in Switzerland and stents in several high end restaurants and hotels across Europe, Juli felt called to create something that resonated with her soul on a different level- she wanted to serve people living food that was artistically prepared with loving hands. She wanted to foster community and build relationships with local farmers. She wanted to do something creative with raw ingredients that didn't involve drowning them in butters and oils.
An organic, plant-based, and mostly raw restaurant was a completely foreign concept to most Charlotteans, however, in 2010 the response to the opening of Luna's Living Kitchen was mind-blowing. Juli's restaurant was, and continues to be, a thriving force in Charlotte's Historic South End where locals, foodies, vegans, the health-conscious, and even plant-based cuisine novices come to celebrate what this restaurant is doing. It's evident the moment you walk through the doors that you are going to experience food and juice concoctions that are teeming with enzymes, minerals, beauty and vitality - the space itself just speaks of life.
In 2011, Stephen Edwards came to eat at Luna's Living Kitchen. After years of working in the business of healthy living products and restaurants, he quickly noticed there was something unique about Juli's restaurant. He joined forces with her soon thereafter and together they created a plan to make the Living Kitchen concept one that could reach further and go beyond the boundaries of Charlotte. They wanted to influence more communities, establish relationships with local farmers in different regions and they wanted to continue inspiring people to choose living foods. The restaurant's second location will open its doors in Downtown Raleigh, NC this Summer and plans for a third location in Chapel Hill, NC are not far behind that.
Today, Juli is the heartbeat of the restaurant, but she is quick to give away credit. It is her team, her friends and her customers, she says, that have nurtured the Living Kitchen community defined by food and friendship.