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$4,745 pledged of $49,000 goal
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Missing avatar By Maria Sparks
$4,745 pledged of $49,000 goal
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About this project

GRO Café

Deliciously honest food.

In the midst of San Diego’s Balboa Park, there is a place where visitors, employees, and friends can kick start their day, pause to catch their breath, stop to relax…GRO and go.

This is GRO Café, the hub for all things healthy. We offer a tasty meal with a smile, a snack with a story, or a beverage to put a spring in one’s step. Serving fresh food and drink that is good for the body, using environmentally friendly means that are good for the soul, we promise deliciously honest food.

Since 2007, Chef Maria Sparks and Cork & Platter, San Diego’s premier catering and personal chef company, have epitomized the true “farm to table” experience and provided clients with products made from high-quality, simple ingredients, sourced directly from local purveyors. Whether it is preparing lunch for an intimate gathering of friends, or a formal multi-course meal for hundreds of guests at a gala, Cork & Platter consistently delivers engaging customer service with precision, impeccable cuisine, and an overall experience that both Cork & Platter and its clients are proud to claim. It is this same expertise and offering of fresh product that Maria will bring to the public forum of GRO Café.

GRO Café is poised for success from the first day its doors are open. Cafés previously operating in this space have been financially profitable as its prime location makes it an ideal environment for guests of Balboa Park, as well as those who call Balboa Park their home for professional play, to relax and enjoy a tasty meal. It is with enthusiasm, an unyielding drive, and a desire to serve the greater good through GRO Café’s reach that Chef Maria Sparks respectfully reaches out to the Kickstarter community to raise funds for the completion of GRO Café’s construction. It is real-world experience and training married with genuine care for others and the environment that distinguishes Maria from her colleagues. The same high standards consistently met by Cork & Platter will be met to create and operate GRO Café.          

The use of sustainable products at GRO Café lends itself to putting into practice the second part of the project, which is piloting the “Keep It in The Park” program. This program will offer patrons the opportunity to learn about composting through GRO Café’s practices. All of the café’s disposables are biodegradable and compostable. All of the food will be compostable as well. These methods will show the park that if done the right way, composting can happen right on the grounds of the park and can then be distributed back into the plants, flowers, shrubs, etc...hence “Keep it in the Park.” Maria and her partners believe that with the success of this project they can put Balboa Park on the map as setting an exemplary model for others to follow. This will be an amazing achievement as the Park’s Centennial Anniversary fast approaches.

Maria and her parent company, MERYO Enterprises, which she co-owns with business partner Mayo Osman, have signed the lease on the space; completed architectural design and retained the contractor; developed the menu and pricing; and planned a marketing program that is ready for a green light. GRO Café is due to open on April 1st of this year but that will only be possible through the funds raised during the Kickstarter campaign. MERYO Enterprises has already come up with half of the funding but the balance to finish the building of GRO Café remains to open to the public and launch Keep It In The Park.

Thank you in advance for considering support of GRO Café. Words can hardly express what it will mean to the community that GRO Café serves to have the café and program launched.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    A great big ‘Thank you!’ from us for helping get GRO Café off the ground. We’ll give you a shout out on Facebook and Twitter, too.

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    A free cup of our organic Café Virtuoso coffee (once we open)!, a heartfelt hug, and a shout out on Facebook and Twitter.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Our limited edition GRO Café T-shirt exclusively designed by local graphic artist, Sean Kelley of Mother Sponge for the Kickstarter project that will list every supporters name including YOURS on the back. This will be printed on very soft American Apparel girly and boy-ee style shirts (S-M-L-XL).

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    A picnic for 2! Perfect to sit out by the Koi Pond or enjoy a performance at the Organ Pavilion. 2 sandwiches, 2 salads, 2 desserts, and 2 beverages, packaged in a custom GRO Café eco-friendly Chico Bag…1 terrific time!

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Two limited edition, locally hand-crafted GRO Café mugs, created for kickstarter backers only, signed by artist Jeremy Gercke of Terra Forma Studio and accompanied by a bag of custom blended GRO Café organic coffee created by Café Virtuoso, packaged in an eco-friendly Chico Bag.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Your name (or a loved one’s name) permanently marked on our café walls—physical recognition that your support helped GRO our business!

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    A two hour, in-home consultation with our local GRO composting expert Paul Maschka. Let this garden guru (and former lead horticulturist at the San Diego Zoo!) make composting a reality for your kitchen and garden. Mr. Maschka will deliver and install a 3'x3' compost bin (designed with reclaimed palettes) in your garden. He'll also bring a sturdy container for your kitchen scraps, and provide a crash-course on turning food and yard waste into rich soil for your garden to GRO! Get yer compost on!

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    A four-course "wine, dine, and sign" dinner for six people. A fabulous collaboration created by Chef Maria Sparks of Cork & Platter and GRO Café, urban farmer Laurel Mehl of Coral Tree Farms, Tommy Gomes of Catalina Offshore Products, and 12 Signs Wine mastermind and certified astrologist, Marie Cox. This menu will be customized to your taste using fresh farm product that will be paired with the four astrological categories - Fire, Air, Earth, and Water. Each guest will receive a mini-astology reading and a bottle of wine that matches their sign. A fabulous birthday gift idea! Multiples can be purchased and combined to create one big EVENT!!

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    Free breakfast or lunch for two people at GRO Café EVERY DAY for one year (valued at over $7,000). This includes 2 limited edition GRO cafe mugs that will be PERSONALIZED and waiting for you each day to fill with your favorite cup 'o' joe and 2 custom GRO t-shirts!

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Fame in perpetuity! We’ll name a sandwich after you and display it on our menu board FOR LIFE! (Plus rewards 1-9) AMAZING!!!

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Funding period

- (21 days)