Gratitude is more than the name of a new vegetarian and vegan cafe and bakery in the Bethany neighborhood.

Just ask the woman in a wheelchair, who received a big hug from owner Kat Cloran.

“I think I scared her,” recalled Cloran, who recently had a ramp installed to make her new store handicap accessible. “I told her I was so excited that she was here.”

Of course, Cloran, and her mother, Maralee, are happy to see all their customers as the Gratitude Cafe & Bakery continues to find its legs since opening Feb. 28 at 1551 N. Cotner Blvd.

The store is a work in progress, with limited hours and menu selections. Heck, Cloran doesn’t even have a phone number yet.

“We’re deciding how we should evolve in the neighborhood,” Cloran said. “We didn’t know what the response would be, so we’re starting slow.”

Ideally, Gratitude hopes to become what the Loveknot Coffee Shoppe is now to the Piedmont neighborhood -- a small bakery/cafe where area residents can relax with coffee, fresh-baked breakfast goods, soups and sandwiches.

Gratitude has evening hours on Friday and Saturday, when it sells wine and beer and features live entertainment.

The new bakery’s current menu includes fresh-baked muffins, scones, cakes, cookies, soups to go and granolas from Cloran’s Groovy Guru Granola company, which she started in 2008. Among her must-try scones are the lemon, citrus coconut and key lime pie. She introduced a chocolate hazelnut last week.

Her granola business is why Gratitude exists. Cloran wanted a storefront she owned rather than leased. She found it in a building that anchors a strip of businesses along Cotner Boulevard. But she didn’t realize how much work it would take.

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Cloran’s family and friends spent the next 15 months helping her to renovate the space, which, at one time, was a bank. More recently, it was home to a beauty salon.

The renovation included installation of an oven and range, stripping the 4-inch layers on the floor down to the original wood and tile, and totally redoing the plumbing and electricity.

“It doesn’t look at all like when we came in,” she said.

Now she has a cozy room with tables, chairs and bigger pieces of furniture, including an antique piano that plays.

Cloran’s plan is to have vegetarian paninis and wraps, with ingredients locally sourced, and more baked goods and fair-trade coffees by summer. She also plans to expand her hours to coincide with the menu changes.

“It’s all been quite the process,” she said.

Reach Jeff Korbelik at 402-473-7213 or jkorbelik@journalstar.com, or follow him on Twitter at @LJSjeffkorbelik.

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