AWESOME HUMANS: Kathy Smith, Yoga Off East

Awesome Humans is a series highlighting those around us who make our communities better, our dreams bigger, and our happiness greater. 

Intro to Kathy

Kathy Smith is the founder of Yoga Off East, Happy + Hale Durham’ s sister studio. Yoga Off East is first and foremost a neighborhood yoga studio, offering vinyasa-inspired yoga classes 7-days a week.

Photo Credit: Bethany and Dan Photography

Photo Credit: Bethany and Dan Photography


The Interview

How did you get here?

My career path has always been rooted in athletics – years before owning Yoga Off East, I was a college tennis coach. My husband’s job as the coach of the Duke’s men’s tennis team brought me to Durham. My experience with yoga up to that point had always been as a competitive athlete or coach. Yoga taught me to stay out of my own way by having more awareness of the myriad of thoughts going through my mind on the tennis court, and eventually that translated into almost every aspect of life.

Moving to NC gave me time to dive into yoga for myself for the first time as a top priority. Even though I wasn’t a yoga teacher at the time, I had a crazy vision to open a studio near campus and serve the Duke community through yoga. One thing led to another: I got certified as a yoga teacher, built relationships in the wellness community, and Yoga Off East became a reality after a mentor and fellow yoga teacher introduced me to Happy + Hale.

My vision from the start was to create a sanctuary in the bustling area of Ninth Street where our neighbors and community-at-large can come to reset and build a ritual of yoga into their weekly routine. I’d love for Yoga Off East to be in the service of supporting our teachers and our students to be clear that they have a special gift to share, and for the practice of yoga to be a support in the sharing of those gifts in the world.

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?

A pro tennis player when I was little, then a veterinarian, then a magazine editor/writer. Truthfully, though, I have always been drawn to the idea of being a small business owner.

If you had theme music, what would it be?

Typical yoga flow stuff. Probably something electronic downtempo, pop, or alternative.

What’s your superpower?

My superpower is that I don't get caught up in drama. I don’t operate well in that space so I try to avoid it. One of my favorite quotes is by Virginia Woolf: “I am rooted, but I flow.”

How do you stay inspired?

My own practice of yoga keeps me inspired, especially meditation and challenging vinyasa classes. I am also inspired by reading and writing. If all else fails, I recharge by taking my dog, Sage, on a walk alone.

What do you feel most proud of?

My family – my husband, two kids, and our dog…and beyond that my extended family including 4 nephews and 11 nieces!

 What does the local community mean to you?

Yoga is evolving, and so is my relationship with the local community. If I didn’t feel a deep connection to Durham, Yoga Off East would not exist. This is the city where we live, work, and now are raising children, and it’s important to me to share a space with the community where I can be a stand for others to show up and be their best self.

What is your “why?”

My why is because the world is wonderful and I believe we should rise up to it, be well, and do good.



Photo Credit: Bethany and Dan Photography

Photo Credit: Bethany and Dan Photography

Compost 101: The Dirt on Black Gold

We get asked constantly where our juice pulp goes.  Back to the Earth, of course!  Not only do we compost our juice pulp, but ALL of our food scraps as well as our post-consumer wares (bowls, plates, cups, lids, straws, napkins, etc).  Is it expensive?  Yup.  Is it a lot of work?  Absolutely.  Is it worth it?  You bet!

With the help of Urban Farmer Lester Clay and our friends at Compost Now we are able to divert hundreds of pounds of compostable material from the landfill every week.  Get the dirt, below >>

Leafy green pulp from our cold pressed juice extraction process.  To the farm!

Leafy green pulp from our cold pressed juice extraction process.  To the farm!


It is first important to note that we are dealing with two types of compost: Pre-consumer and post-consumer.


Each and every week our restaurants create hundreds of pounds of food waste.  Between dense juice pulp and assorted food scraps (think banana peels, egg shells, red pepper stems, coffee grounds, onion peels, dino kale stems) we are constantly filling up buckets of rich, organic matter that many will haul straight to the dumpster.  Not us!  From here Lester will be by to scoop up our buckets and take to the community garden at Passage Home in Downtown Raleigh.  This is where things get messy, and fun.  


Food scraps.  It all starts here. 

Food scraps.  It all starts here. 




Bowls, lids, cups, straws, straw wrappers, forks, spoons, knives...all of it...we compost it all!  All of our post-consumer wares are plant-based and come from Eco Products.  After you're done enjoying that quinoa bowl or Almond Brothers smoothie, drop your "trash" into one of our compost receptacles.  The crew at Compost Now will be by soon to transport to a commercial facility.  There, your wares will begin to break down until fully degraded into the soil, typically a four month process.  Magic! 


Triangle Trails: Runologie's Guide to Getting Outside

Whether it’s after a long day in the office, first thing in the morning, or squeezed into the middle of your day, putting your feet to the pavement and running it out is some of the cheapest and most effective therapy around. We are so fortunate to be based in the southeast, where the winters are mild and the running trails are open pretty much all year long. Time to lace up those sneakers though, because spring is budding. The Triangle is home to many winding, shaded trails and picturesque loops. We've compiled some of our favorites with the help of our favorite running experts, the Runologie Raleigh crew. 

1)   Neuse River Greenway (Raleigh to Clayton) 

*Runologie pick!

 A fairly new addition to Raleigh's Capital City Greenway, the Neuse River Greenway is fairly flat, which most Raleigh runners welcome with open arms. It has some of the best foot bridges in town, and is incredibly scenic with the Neuse River nearby for its entire 30+ miles. Pro tip: In the summer, be sure to stop around mile 23.5 for fields upon fields of sunflower blooms! 

2)   Lake Lynn Park (Raleigh)

This looped trail is a little over two miles long, making it the perfect quick jaunt to help you earn those endorphins. Parking is easy and the trail is fairly flat, plus the proximity to the lake makes for a motivating backdrop.

3) Dorthea Dix Park (Raleigh)

*Runologie pick!

From Runologie, we often head straight down Boylan Ave for a signature view of the skyline and then into one of Raleigh's greatest assets, Dorthea Dix Park. Dix Park has some of the best views of downtown, incredible hills to get those legs turning, and vast open spaces. With the park being less than a mile from downtown you get the best of both worlds -- views of our great city and beautiful scenery. Pro tip: Run down Barbour Drive for a good downhill with an stellar view.

4)   William B.  Umstead State Park (Raleigh and Cary)

*Runologie pick!

Another special park within Raleigh's reach, almost any trail is a good one in Umstead. From wide bridal paths to the narrow and rocky ups and downs of the Loblolly Trail, Umstead is a must add to your weekly workouts. 

5) NCMA (Raleigh)

*Runologie pick!

 The trails and greenways around the North Carolina Museum of Art are one of kind. Nature, art, and architecture can all be experienced around NCMA making it a truly unique spot in Raleigh. You can literally stumble onto some of Raleigh's best art in the woods on this route. It also has some of the best hills in town.

6)   American Tobacco Trail (Durham and Apex)

Sprawling 22 miles, the American Tobacco Trail is a running hot spot that showcases a little bit of everything NC has to offer.  You’ll be running through the trees one minute, and on a bridge crossing over the highway the next.

7 ) Fayetteville Street at Mt. Hope Cemetery (Raleigh)

*Runologie pick!

 Fayetteville Street, a main axis of downtown Raleigh, continues out of downtown and a great hidden gem lies at the crest of Fayetteville Street and Mt. Hope Cemetery. You can easily hop on the Capital City Greenway to get in a good loop around the city and then circle onto Fayetteville Street past the cemetery for a breathtaking (perhaps quite literally) view. Pro tip: Here, you're running alongside history -- Mt. Hope has an incredible past having been established in 1872 as a primarily African American Cemetery. 

8)   Al Buehler Trail (Durham)

If you like a run that makes you work, the Al Buehler Trail might be for you. This trail winds through Duke Forest and comes in at just under 3 miles. Plentiful trees mean shade is in no short supply, but fair warning – the hills are plentiful, too!


Ginger: Juicing's MVP

At Happy + Hale, it’s no secret – we love juice. Be it red, yellow, green, orange, purple…juicing is a healthy way to work sources of energy, vitamins, and minerals into your diet. Glance over our menu or scour the web for recipes of your own and you’re likely to find one ingredient that keeps stepping in to spice things up: ginger.


As a flavor, ginger was traditionally seen in Asian, African, and Indian-influenced dishes. It also has a history of being used in many cultures as a means of natural medicine.  A little bit of ginger goes a long way to add earthy, warm, and spicy flavors to any dish or drink.

Don’t be mistaken though – ginger brings a lot more than zest to the table.  In fact, we’ve made a running list of its superpowers.


Gingerol, which is the active compound in ginger, is a well-known anti-inflammatory agent. Studies have even gone so far to point out that consuming ginger regularly can help with pain, swelling, and mobility in those with arthritis.


Ginger’s inherent anti-inflammatory properties also make it a weapon against cancerous cells.  The University of Michigan Medical School has perhaps the most compelling research to make this case, with data that points to ginger helping to prevent colon cancer by keeping gut inflammation under control. Plus, antioxidants in ginger can contribute to other types of cancer protection.


In many cultures, ginger tea is used to calm stomachaches. Not to mention its potential to soothe nausea, vomiting, and motion sickness.

Immunity Boost

Ginger is immunity’s dream sidekick. As a naturally antimicrobial food, it blocks troublesome microorganisms like bacteria and fungi. As if that wasn’t enough, ginger also awakens specialized white blood cells that can actively destroy viruses and tumor cells.

Digestion Boost

Ginger helps to neutralize stomach acid and contains certain enzymes that make it easier for the stomach to break down protein.

Circulation Boost

Ginger can help expand blood vessels, making blood circulation easier and more fluid while preventing issues such as blood clots and high cholesterol.

The best part about ginger is that the list could go on.  Beyond all of the practical ways ginger can improve health, it is also likely to improve skin and hair. No wonder we slip a little of it into almost every juice. The spice is right… 

Greenville Update

The lone crane watches over the pool deck.

The lone crane watches over the pool deck.

It's hard to believe it's been almost two years since we first set foot on the streets of Greenville, SC.  New York Times named it the #12 place to visit in the WORLD in 2017 and we couldn't be more excited to open our doors in the Spring!  The concrete floors were poured last week and we are ready for framing.  If all goes according to plan we'll be dishing out healthy fuel by early April...fingers crossed - Team H+H

Enter for happiness. 

Enter for happiness. 

Beauty in lines. 

Beauty in lines. 



lululemon / happy + hale 

lululemon / happy + hale 

What are Antioxidants, Anyways?

Antioxidants: We know we want them, but why? They have snuck their way onto labels and menus as a health and food industry buzzword, but what, exactly, is the buzz about? Trust us when we say this:  they are not overhyped!

Antioxidants occur naturally in plant-based foods like veggies and fruits, plus some of your favorite earthy treats like coffee, tea, chocolate, and even wine. To understand them fully, it’s helpful to know what they are up against ­— oxidation.

Oxidation, in the plainest terms possible, is oxygen’s interaction with cells. Think iron rusting or guacamole browning. Oxidation (or oxidants) within your body is 100 percent natural and even necessary, but it’s not always perfect. Sometimes, oxidation causes cell damage, turning cells into what are known as free radicals. For context, it can be helpful to note that free radicals also stem from sun exposure, cigarette smoke, alcohol, and pollution. Read: They are the bad guys!

Too many free radicals building up over time have the potential to be permanently damaging to cells. Many scientists believe that free radicals can contribute to the aging process as well as certain diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

This is where antioxidants swoop in to earn their buzz. Antioxidants are a natural, power-packed way to counteract the damage caused by free radicals.  Their superpowers include stopping chain reactions in their tracks and defending the body against compromised health.

Before you run out to stock up on antioxidant supplements, though, remember that balance is key.  Health-wise, it’s actually ideal to have a good balance of oxidants and antioxidants. It’s near impossible to overload on antioxidants with food and drink alone, so it’s advisable to get your dose of antioxidants through bright fruits, veggies, and other natural sources.  We’re thinking blueberries, bananas, pineapples, grapefruit, red peppers, beets, kale…the list could go on. Cue your stomach growling. Not to mention a little chocolate thrown in for good measure…

Meet the Farmer: Will Bumgarner of Bumgarner Farms

In September of 2015 we happened to stumble across Bumgarner Farms on Instagram (@bumgarnerfarmsnc) and instantly reached out to the man on a mission, Will Bumgarner.  Will had just started to farm his family's land and we felt immediately connected to his story.  In 2016, Will provided our restaurants with nearly 1,000 pounds of arugula, 500 pounds of dino kale, and 300 pounds of cherry tomatoes.  Throughout this process we both learned a tremendous amount.  We faced the many challenges that pesticide-free farming provides...mostly in the form of bugs, deer, and heavy rain.

In late October we took our team out to Bumgarner Farms to harvest, get our hands dirty, and take Will's new tractor out for a spin (obviously our favorite part).  

This is only the beginning of our partnership with Will and we are beyond pumped to support the local farming movement.  We asked will to share a little bit about himself, his farm, and his plans for the future.  Enjoy!

My name is Will Bumgarner and I am the owner/operator of Bumgarner Farms in Kittrell N.C. I started Bumgarner Farms in September of 2015. After working for other local farms in the area, Bumgarner Farms was born. My experience prior to my own farm was in the greenhouse and nursery industry. I came across farming at a young age. My family owned farmland and it I always enjoyed exploring the fields. When I was 11 years old I went help work in the summer months on a farm in our area. They grew basil, had a greenhouse, and delivered produce to restaurants in the Triangle. That early exposure is what drew me to farming. I had no idea that later in life I would choose farming as a way of life.  I currently live on the farm with my fiance, Destinie and our daughter Scarlett. We don't have any full time employees so Destinie and I do all of the work needed to run a produce farm. My love for my family is also a reason we farm. Farming is a way of life and it has forwarded me the opportunity to work close to home and be a part of my daughter's life, as well as provide the healthiest food possible for us.

Brief Farm History:

Our farm has been in my family for 6 generations and was aquired in the late 1800's. Traditionally the farm was used to produce cotton, tobacco, and soybeans. My great grandfather farmed these crops until he retired in the late 70's. It was at that point that he began farming vegetables on a small scale for the family and neighbors. After his death the farm was rented out to local farmers who grew conventional row crops. In 2015 I decided it was time to make use of the land I had before me and it was then that Bumgarner Farms was born. 

Future goals

My future goals as a small farmer are vast. My goal is to grow the healthiest, safest fruits and vegetables possible for the people within our community. I want Bumgarner Farms to be a brand name synonymous with healthy living and the safest source for produce available. I want to educate future generations on farming and our local food system and help build a better community. 


Meet the Team: Executive Chef Justin Venezia

We are thrilled to welcome Executive Chef Justin Venezia to the Happy+Hale family!  Chef Justin will oversee menu development and food preparation for all of our locations as we expand across the Southeast. Venezia recently moved to North Carolina from Orlando, Florida, where he worked in several hotels, country clubs and fine-dining establishments. He has 26 years of cooking experience. 

As the eldest son in an Italian family, Venezia grew up enjoying great home-cooked meals, often the focus of many family gatherings. From a young age, he was fascinated by watching Julia Child on TV, which inspired his passion for food. After graduating from high school, Venezia joined the army and served for three years in Germany, where he met his wife. Upon his discharge, he earned his culinary degree from the Florida Culinary Institute, now called the Lincoln Culinary Institute.

Venezia has settled into Chapel Hill with his wife of almost 20 years and their young son. The family enjoys the beautiful outdoor amenities that North Carolina has to offer.

Look for Chef Justin's rotating seasonal menus soon!