Soma Center Café Shut Down, Facing Eviction

soma center.jpeg
by Lisa Rab
The vegan restaurant is locked and shuttered.
It's been a rough year for the vegan/raw food Soma Center Café. First, a newly opened West Palm Beach location closed its doors after just two months. Now the original Lake Worth hangout for yogis and raw foodies has been padlocked and is facing eviction.

Landlord Herman Robinson filed suit against the restaurant in Palm Beach County Circuit Court on September 30. The eviction process "takes a painfully long time," he says, and his lawyer is still trying to recover lost rent.

Soma owner Michael Coupland could not be reached for comment. His Palm Beach phone
number has been disconnected, and no is answering the phone at the café.

"It was unfortunate for a lot of people and for the community," Robinson says of the café's abrupt closing. "We'll miss it. It was something that Lake Worth should have."

Soma's demise comes after months of floundering. Managers Raine and Shawn Rodriguez were hired to run the West Palm Beach location, then transferred to Lake Worth after the new location closed. Several staff members were laid off in the move and never returned. Meanwhile, some yoga instructors -- who led classes in a small studio at the Lake Worth center -- quit because it was taking too long for their paychecks to materialize.
 
Open since 2006, Soma's relaxed, friendly vibe -- with its hardwood floors and lush courtyard filled with trellises of flowers -- never emphasized the harsh realities of running a business. On its website, the New Times award winner for Best Vegan Restaurant describes itself as a "holistic wellness center." Mainly, it was a place for the hippie, alternative set to gather, practice yoga, and eat deliciously fresh food.

"The Soma Center is not any one thing," the website says. "Nor is it about any one person or type of person. The idea is to expose one to new ideas, new knowledge, new people, new forms of movement, and a new sense of community."

Robinson says it would be "terrific" to find a new tenant. Although the eviction has not been finalized, he expects to be able to rent the space next week.
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