VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - "It's C-L-T-R-E, V-G-N, J-N-T."
It's the name of Luvenia "Luv" Hankins' cafe, pronounced 'Culture Vegan Joint.'
"In 'culture', the only thing missing from 'culture' is 'u,'" said Hankins, who tells News 3 she wants to bring people together over good food, good conversation and art.
Hankins opened CLTRE. vgn jnt in 2018 at an incubator space. After shutting down in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the cafe reopened in September at its own space in the Kemps River Crossing shopping center, near Indian River and Kempsville Roads in Virginia Beach.
"COVID was like a rebirth for us. COVID allowed us to take a pause. We didn't want to work in fear," said Hankins.
The location may have changed, but the menu and the cafe's goals did not.
Hankins says she wanted the space to target the vegan breakfast and lunch crowd; menu items include spelt flour waffles and coffee drinks that contain oat milk instead of regular milk.
The menu is fully plant-based. It's a diet that Hankins, 31, has followed for six years, but she guesses only half of her customer base is vegan.
"Exotic food is amazing and a lot of exotic food is well-flavored and cooked with so much love and passion," she told News 3.
Hankins says her family was largely nomadic growing up, although she calls Seattle home. She visited nearly all 50 states and has experienced a number of different cultures.
That lifestyle shaped her business today, she says. "It's all about the experience. We want people to come in here and feel our vibe, feel welcome, feel this is a place where they belong, eat good food and socialize."
Complimenting the food and social scene are paintings on the walls by talented customers and local music playing from the speakers.
It's a vibe. One that Hankins hopes everyone will give a chance...even if they're not vegan.
"You're not required to go vegan. It's alright to eat it. You're also not required to eat meat every meal. It's alright to be open minded and toggle between and have a tour. That's what I call it; a tour."