Husband-and-wife team Karen DiGloria and Adam Kantrovitz have been serving delicious raw, vegan and organic dishes at Rawk Star Café on U.S. 19 for more than two years.
PALM HARBOR – Change your diet; change your life.
That’s the simple, yet profound inspiration behind the creatively healthy menu at Palm Harbor’s Rawk Star Café, said co-owner Karen DiGloria. The restaurant serves up delicious raw and plant-based dishes with an emphasis on the superfoods that pack a nutritional wallop conventional diets tend to lack.
DiGloria opened Rawk Star, 32522 U.S. 19, with her husband, Adam Kantrovitz, two-and-a-half years ago. The couple had come to Palm Harbor from Boston about eight years prior seeking a change of pace and warmer weather.
Kantrovitz’s background was in hotel and restaurant management, and he learned the ins and outs of the industry at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. DiGloria worked as an oncology nurse at a large Boston hospital. She grew weary of seeing patients pummel their bodies with chemotherapy and other toxic treatments, weakening their systems at a time they needed all the strength they could get.
“I hated seeing them like that,” she said. “I’d watch them come back for more treatment, damaging their bodies even more. I kept thinking to myself, ‘There has to be a better way.’”
Disillusioned, she quit her job, the couple moved to Florida, and she became a personal trainer. Not long after that, she completed her first cleanse and adopted a vegan diet. She also began researching alternative and natural health through the Hippocrates Health Institute, arming herself with the information needed to properly make such a healthy lifestyle transition.
Her husband, though he still ate meat, has “always been a mindful eater,” he said, and encouraged her new lifestyle.
It wasn’t long before the pair came up with the concept for Rawk Star, fusing their passions: hers for clean, healthy living and his for the hospitality industry.
“It was perfect,” Kantrovitz said. “She knew she still wanted to help people in some way, and I was trying to figure out where to put my skills. I love business, but I wanted to run a business with meaning.”
One look at the menu and you’ll find some commonplace offerings: pizza, burgers, ice cream. But they’re not like anything you’ve ever tasted before. Unlike the unhealthy, grease-laden meals you might be served elsewhere, these vegan fares are actually made with 100 percent organic raw and living ingredients and without any animal products whatsoever.
“It’s healthy food that tastes good,” Kantrovitz said.
“People don’t realize how filling these nutritious meals actually are for you,” DiGloria added. “Drinking one of our green smoothies is the same as eating a meal.”
Word spread about the café and it quickly garnered a regular client base, attracting vegans and vegetarians as well as those interested in changing their diet to rejuvenate their health.
Because so many customers who are new to raw foods walk through Rawk Star’s doors, DiGloria’s role has expanded since the café opened. Now, she finds herself wearing the hat of lifestyle coach, instructing people on nutrition and the benefits of a raw, vegan diet. Some are combating illness – most frequently endocrine and hormone issues, particularly with the thyroid, and cancer – while others are looking to increase their energy and improve their sleep.
“People are starting to realize that diet is the answer,” she said.