Lawrence General Hospital held a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023, to celebrate the grand opening of Casabe Café at Lawrence General Hospital. During opening remarks, hospital Executive Vice President Robin Hynds, and Casabe owner Wendy Luzon touted the partnership as a way to support the community and provide healthy, cultural cuisine options for employees, families and visitors.
Mayor Brian DePena, state Sen. Pavel Payano, state Rep. Frank Moran, state Rep. Estela Reyes and Lawrence City Councilor Ana Levy, were among the community leaders and elected officials present to cut the ribbon and hail this novel community partnership focused on health that recognizes the rich Latino culture of the Lawrence community. For Lawrence General Hospital, the café opening reflects a health equity commitment aligned with Lawrence General’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) goals.
“Having Casabe here in our hospital café offering a wide array of healthful food options is another way we can support improved health in our community and at the same time embrace the rich cultural diversity we have in Lawrence,” Deborah J. Wilson, president and CEO of Lawrence General Hospital, said. “Supplier diversity is also an important DEI goal for us and as we explored new options for our hospital café space, we chose Casabe Café not only for their support of a local, female-owned business, but also a shared community-centered philosophy focused on respect, opportunity, communication, kindness and service.”
A native of the Dominican Republic, Casabe owner Luzon settled in Lawrence more than 25 years ago and after she and her husband raised their children here, she opened her first Casabe location at 276 Essex St., in February 2020. As Luzon explains, the now three-year-old Casabe brand was borne out of a desire to provide the greater Lawrence community with more fresh fruits and vegetables – something not as often available to folks who may reach more frequently for convenience foods like rice and beans. Of key importance to Luzon when opening a second location at Lawrence General Hospital is certainly providing access to healthy food.
“We were raised eating fresh fruits and somehow you come to the United States and you want things fast,” Luzon said, making the correlation between healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. “The way you eat impacts your weight. This community has a lot of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity and it’s all about how you eat.”
Casabe at Lawrence General Hospital will employ six people and be open to staff, patients’ families, and visitors Monday through Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.