Only Kimber Saunders could see an old, run down muffler shop on Lebanon Pike in Donelson and envision it transformed into an adorable bakehouse.
“But, I did,” she said with a laugh.
The Sunflower Bakehouse will debut in Donelson on Sept. 21 and will bring to the area a “completely vegan, completely gluten-free” restaurant and bakery. This brand-new café is the sister to the family restaurant in Berry Hill called Sunflower Café. Kimber’s family are the Storrs and they all have their hands in the Berry Hill restaurant as a family run enterprise. Now, Kimber is branching off to spread their message of eating clean and healthy to the Donelson area. It took her three years to find the perfect location, albeit that took a major refurb.
“At Sunflower Bakehouse, we are fulfilling our dream of providing Middle Tennessee with vegan and gluten-free foods, gluten-free baked goods and breads that are delicious and that everyone can enjoy,” said this entrepreneur, who holds a Masters in nutrition and is a registered dietician.
Her days and nights are busy as she prepares to open her “baby” in Donelson in just a few weeks. Obviously, the muffler shop is transformed and designed to welcome those who are hard core vegans, and to those who simply are curious about a vegan menu.
“And, simply try, simple and clean food here,” said Kimber.
She said she’s a little nervous introducing this city and its neighbors to what she said is a “niche” market. But, the restaurant in Berry Hill provides a vegan menu and it’s been going strong for almost seven years.
Kimber always wanted to bake gluten free goods in Berry Hill, but the place was just too small. This new space is almost twice as big and the bakery is situated in the back. And, because she knows her stuff, Kimber said her menu items are a great way to by-pass certain allergens and triggers for some people. Her goal to persuade all people to give gluten-free and vegan options a try. What can it hurt, she mused? And, it can help a lot.
“Alternative options are wonderful,” she said.
She said a vegan diet excludes anything from animals and is plant based.
“For me a vegan diet provides huge health implications. I’m trying to push health. There are even environmental implications,” she said.
And, while some are vegan because of ethical reasons, she said if more people went vegan, the planet would have benefits as well. Hers is an oil free, soy free and gluten free menu.
Kimber is the general manager, owner and operator of Sunflower Bakery, but hardly a day goes by when a family member doesn’t stop by to help out. Soon her cupcake cases and shelves will be full of tempting goodies. It’s a full restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There will be offerings of sandwiches, soups, salads, pot pies and baked pastries. All fresh, and made in-house.
“It’s basically the foods we all know and love, just clean,” she said.
All breads are made in-house and people love her “meatballs,” made without meat.
“People are so surprised when they try them, it’s really a lot about comfort food,” she said.
For dessert there’s a whole line of cupcakes, muffins, scones and more. There’s a head chef, sous chef, quite a few staff, and four bakers already gearing up for their grand reveal. Diners can order all types of coffees and teas, as well as locally made kombucha.
The reinvented building has a casual and industrial feel with a cement floor. It seats 76 and has an outdoor patio for al fresco dining. Of course, there will be sunflowers.
“I think Donelson is ready for us!” she said. “We are ready to take the allergy free and vegan concepts to the next level. I cannot tell you how excited we are to be here in the heart of the city, just minutes from the airport and Mt. Juliet and Hermitage.
Sunflower Bakery is located at 2414 Lebanon Pike.