Anastasia Pendley opened Cafe Kindness to show the Bowling Green community that eating healthy foods doesn’t have to be hard. The menu features smoothies, gourmet toast and fresh juice, with a goal to inspire others to treat their bodies kindly.

This business and mission isn’t just a tagline – it’s a reflection of Anastasia’s journey and the life-changing impact treating her body kindly had on her.

In high school, Anastasia suffered from an eating disorder. “There was a time when I couldn’t tell you one thing I liked about myself,” she said. Yet, in these moments, her father would remind her that kindness is what shone in her the most. This would become the inspiration for the cafe’s name.

As Anastasia healed and changed her relationship with food, she began seeing food not just as sustenance but as a way to practice hospitality and care for others. She began preparing food for her family and friends, and she shared recipes and stories on her blog.

In August 2021, she was presented with an opportunity to share her passion for healthy food with the Bowling Green community. Anastasia purchased Zest Juice, a company that made cold-pressed juice from whole fruits and vegetables.

After spending months selling juice at farmer’s markets and local shops, she was given a chance to open her own space. “It just really fell into place,” she said. “God set up all the steps for me to land here and land this building.”

Her first step to making Cafe Kindness a reality was meeting with Scott Turner, First Southern Senior Vice President of Business Development in Bowling Green. “I sat down with Mr. Turner and told him my idea, and he said, ‘you need a business plan,’ so my next step after that was to make a business plan,” Anastasia said. “I was able to form a plan for what I wanted, not only for Zest Juice at the time, but what I wanted for this community and what I felt like Bowling Green needed.”

After working with First Southern and renovating the space, Cafe Kindness opened in March. Anastasia has already been amazed by the support she has received. “I didn’t announce when we opened – we just opened our doors,” she said. “I thought that nobody would show up, but I’ve been so surprised every single day, not just with our sales – which I am very grateful for so I can pay my loan, pay my rent and pay my people – but it’s just crazy the kindness of the customers. I feel very grateful and blessed.”

The light-filled cafe is full of reminders to treat yourself and others kindly, and Anastasia’s goal is to provide a peaceful space where customers feel welcome and at home. Giving back to the community is important to her. She supports other small businesses by hosting pop-up shops and carrying local food items from other Bowling Green restaurants and meal prep services.

“People think I’m doing this by myself, but I’m not at all,” said Anastasia. “My parents are a wealth of knowledge, and they will do whatever it takes to make sure I get to do what I feel is my calling.” Her partnership with First Southern has also been foundational in making Cafe Kindness a reality. “Scott Turner is a mentor and a friend. It’s an honor to know him,” she said. “He took a chance on me, and I’m very thankful for that. From the very first meeting, he has shown me he believes in me by asking me tough questions and being patient with me.”

Looking back, Anastasia can see all the pieces that came together for her to open Cafe Kindness – including her hardest challenges. “It all started with very small pieces – even having an eating disorder, hating food and not realizing that my body should be treated kindly,” she said. “Then I had my blog where I would just talk about what I was eating or doing, and then I started making food for people. And then this happened!”

Now the owner of a cafe, Anastasia has a lot she wishes she could tell her younger self. “I would tell her to focus on God and remember that your body is a gift. I would tell her to push through because it gets better. We only have this one life, and there’s no reason to not like the body God gave you. It is a unique gift that deserves to be treated kindly!”

You can visit Café Kindness at 937 College Street in Bowling Green, Kentucky.