Lacuna founders Megan Whiteside and Trent DeMichele were seeking a more holistic lifestyle than New York City offered them. But shortly after moving back to Denver, they realized the Mile High City lacked their New York wellness staples: organic cold-pressed juice and Katonah yoga classes. They quickly decided, as Whiteside said, “if we wanted it, we would have to do it.” So, Lacuna Juice and Yoga was born. Catering to the busy Denver lifestyle, Lacuna is a one-stop shop for a workout and a bite to eat – and makes fitting both into your lunch break easy.
While DeMichele focuses on the juices and Whiteside teaches yoga, both came to these wellness practices out of necessity. In her early 20s, Whiteside broke her back as a professional snowboarder. Realizing that lifestyle wasn’t sustainable, she turned to yoga to keep her fit, focused and always striving to improve herself and her body. DeMichele worked both as a bartender and in software and quickly realized both jobs restricted his time to work out, sleep well and eat healthily. Now they’ve turned their passions into their work to bring a unique enterprise and contribute to the wellness community in Denver.
Photos by Evans Ousley
Lacuna is a part of the S*Park community and is located on the corner of Lawrence and 26th Street. Steps away from Denver Central Market and various co-working and start-up offices, Lacuna offers Denverites a new service in the constantly growing RiNo neighborhood. Lacuna functions not only as a yoga studio but also as a neighborhood café with wifi, grab and go lunch items and a number of places to sit and work for a while.
Though the husband and wife duo was inspired to start Lacuna from their lives in New York, the space itself has decor from the couple’s various trips to Morocco. Walking in from the street, guests enter the café space with custom-made Moroccan lamp shades, a hanging bed and a wall of plants. The whole space – including the yoga studio – is filled with natural light.
“I always wanted to create something that is light, and bright and airy,” Whiteside explained. “Lacuna means a space or opening. So that’s what we wanted to create, something that’s spacious.” And she wants all who enter to leave feeling spacious as well. “[It’s] a space to become open physically – more open in your joints and ligaments,” she added, “and more open-minded to try new things, more open to going new places and having new experiences.”
One of the new experiences Whiteside wants people to try is a new type of yoga: Katonah. She is currently the only certified Katonah teacher in Colorado, though she’s working on improving that number. This practice is unlike the yoga that many Denverites are used to. Rather than taking from Indian philosophy, Katonah is based in Taoist theory. Whiteside compared it to Chinese medicine, explaining that it’s adjustment heavy and helps you have a good experience in your body.
While Whiteside has dedicated her life to exposing others to a more wholesome way of life, she also relates to the importance of having fun and letting loose. “In the yoga community here,” she commented, “it was always this dogmatic no drinking, living this pure lifestyle, and that’s not reality.” She’s worked hard to create an atmosphere at Lacuna that meets people where they are and accepts the way they choose to live their lives. Whiteside has no problem with drinking a little too much some nights. “Life is about balance and you do have to have fun,” she said. “Then you do have to take care of yourself.”
In fact, Whiteside is leading an upcoming yoga retreat through Lacuna in the Portuguese wine country. She’s excited to lead retreats in a number of places in the upcoming year – Morocco and Bali included – to expose people to other cultures and experiences. They’ve made these trips more affordable than most other yoga retreats, to make them available to a wider range of people. “We want people to be able to come on multiple retreats, not just save up for this once in a lifetime trip.”
The Juice and Food
Travel has been a large part of Whiteside and DeMichele’s time together and has not only opened their mind but also inspired their menu at Lacuna’s café and juice bar. Many of their juices are based on their favorite drinks from places they’ve visited, including Costa Rica and Tulum. In addition to standard juice and smoothie ingredients, DeMichele uses unexpected flavors such as tahini, fennel, jicama and banana milk to expose people to different foods and nutrients.
The drinks themselves will taste good, but they’re also beneficial for the body. As the first cold-pressed juicery, Lacuna is using all organic ingredients to offer made-to-order drinks. The cold-pressed aspect is important – traditional juices add both heat and oxygen which changes the composition and kills the beneficial enzymes.
But they’re serving a lot more than juice and smoothies. Lacuna brought on Carrie Shores, previously of Table 6, to create a plant-based menu of sandwiches, salads, soups and other treats. Shores and DeMichele use local ingredients where they can, including greens grown on the same city block at Altius’ Rooftop Farm. “We don’t have a hood, we don’t have a grease trap, so we’re not cooking anything,” Whiteside explained. The café does have a few cooked items, including a smoky tofu bacon for a BLT, but the majority of food items will be fresh and raw for optimum nutrition and flavor.
A Wholistic Lifestyle
When asked for one word that describes Lacuna, DeMichele answered “sustainable.” And that’s what Lacuna, and S*Park in general, was founded on: living a more sustainable lifestyle, for your body and for the world. Though Lacuna’s cafe has a number of to go items, all the takeaway containers and utensils are compostable. Their juices are bottled in glass, with a $1 bottle deposit to be refunded when bottles are returned to the café.
DeMichele and Whiteside have also curated a small retail section with a few Moroccan hair and skin care products, as well as glass water bottles, organic deodorant and CBD oils. Members receive a discount on retail products and a free juice, smoothie or bowl once a month.
After over three years of dreaming up Lacuna, DeMichele and Whiteside have finally opened their doors. Their entire vision is to open minds to a realistic wellness lifestyle and teach people “how we can take care of ourselves through a physical practice, through what we put into our bodies, and then what you put into your mind.” Whiteside added, “if you’re putting good stuff in, you’ll be able to put good stuff out in every way.”
Photography is by Evans Ousley and by Sara Ford, courtesy of Lacuna.