Natalie Gauvin has no interest in becoming a flight attendant, but her life’s passion follows the script.
“The airlines have it right, you have to put the oxygen mask on you first before you can be available to help others,” she said.
An aspiration to “be well” herself and help others do the same influences every aspect of her family/artist/fitness enthusiast/nutritionist/business owner life.
“I want to put out something positive and good in the world, from my artwork to teaching people how to move in their bodies and how to be comfortable in their own skin, to yoga, dance, Pilates, mindfulness — I’ve been in fitness for 25 years,” Natalie said. “And to nutrition, helping people understand that it’s easy to be well, and your body is a temple and you need to take care of it first.”
Every aspect of this vision is on display Monday through Saturday at the aptly named shop she opened in July 2016 in Liberty Lake, The WELL Coffeehouse Pub & Eatery. In fact, a previous version of her plans for The WELL included a fitness center. When she decided to open in Liberty Lake, she found a location across Country Vista Drive from a place close to her heart, The Mat, a yoga and martial arts studio.
“I just decided to take the food portion of (my business concept) and go with it, cause I live here and this is my community and the Mat is right there across the street,” she said.
An added benefit to opening up close to home is her ability to host community events important to her. Natalie, a trained mediator, thinks people should sit down at tables more often to talk about supposedly taboo topics like politics and religion. This fall, she hosted an event she billed as “controversial movie night” to help people get talking.
The “top dog, biggest priority in my life and world,” however, is her work building a local mindfulness coalition. Mindfulness is simply the ability to be fully present, aware and thereby not overly reactive or overwhelmed by external events. How is it practiced?
“Stand back, listen to your breath, close your eyes, feel that you’re human alongside other humans, and that’s all there is,” Natalie said.
She is particularly focused on getting mindfulness incorporated into the start of the day at local schools. After Central Valley High School went on lockdown in January 2018 when a student brought a gun to school, Gauvin organized a community gathering at The WELL attended by local public officials and concerned citizens to talk about mindfulness.
“We can’t make parents be better parents,” she wrote in an email around that time. “We can’t fortify schools overnight. We can’t change gun control overnight. We can teach mindfulness in every grade, every day, five minutes, overnight.”
While The WELL started out as a name, it has become a reputation Natalie is proud of after 3½ years in business.
Asked about what makes her best customers loyal, she doesn’t hesitate: The WELL is trusted to provide high quality, and “as much as we can, we go local and organic and sustainable.”
“(For example), I don’t use iceberg lettuce, I use really good romaine, and we triple soak it to get off as much of the pesticides as we can,” Natalie explained. “All of these are time-consuming steps that lead to the highest quality of something.”
Natalie the artist is on display when you enter The WELL, which she describes in five words: “creative, warm, inviting, cozy, inclusive.”
Natalie is a painter, but her artistic talents are diverse. She has designed background sets for theaters, built her own furniture and performed and taught artistic dance.
THE TOP PICK
Natalie said the Isagenix smoothies, especially Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup and Green Bliss, have developed an extremely loyal following.
“I think it’s a great product,” she said of Isagenix. “That’s something I’m really proud of offering here.”
On the food side, Natalie said the Thai Peanut Chicken Lettuce Wrap and Avocado Toast are both popular orders.
THE CULT FAVORITE
If you go to most coffee shops, it’s possible to order your cappuccino between 12 and 20 ounces – even down to eight in some cases. Except that, well, that’s not really a traditional cappuccino.
“When people come in and ask for a 16-ounce cappuccino, we always educate them,” Natalie said. “You’re just getting a foamy latte, and they are charging more for it probably.”
At The WELL, “we serve it like they do in Italy.” This is espresso topped with foam created by steaming milk, resulting in what is typically a 4 to 6 ounce drink whether people want it prepared wet or dry, she explained. The traditional drink has an intense flavor; that flavor is muted in alternative versions that add milk and foam to fill larger cups.
While it’s far from the most popular drink on the menu, The WELL’s commitment to serving the traditional cappuccino has developed a small but enthusiastic following, she said.
In addition to Isagenix, Natalie lists Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters as one of the key partners in her pursuit of offering the highest quality products to her customers. Among the team members that make the shop run, Natalie listed her sons and her longest-tenured employee, Aimee Fassbender.
I want to put out something positive and good into the world.Natalie Gauvin, The WELL
THE TIME WHEN …
A couple walked in holding hands just as Natalie was closing the store for the day.
“I said, ‘I’m sorry, we’re closed,’” she recalled. “And they said, ‘Oh. OK, well do you mind if we just look around for a little bit.’”
Natalie agreed, and the couple huddled in the corner, “making googly eyes and talking sweet to each other.”
As she picked up some context clues, Natalie began to ask about their story, learning that exactly one year prior the couple had met at The WELL on a blind date after connecting online. The woman said she had picked The WELL as a safe spot and promised herself a short date and that the two would leave separately.
“She said, ‘I don’t know if you remember us, but we sat here for four hours, and then I felt so comfortable I got into his car, and the rest of the date we just drove around and talked, and we ended up having dinner. It was a 13-hour date, and we haven’t been apart since,’” Natalie recalled.
Josh’s update (5/23/20): Natalie has updated her business model to include coworking space. For complete details of updated cafe hours and opportunities at The Well, consult the information below.
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