Last summer, a fire at a nearby business spread to Govinda’s Natural Foods Buffet and pressed pause on a 30-year run of vegan/vegetarian lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch buffet service.

By Kimberly Schmitz

Just short of five months later, the soup was back on in time for Thanksgiving festivities. The fire ran along the back of the building, damaging the kitchen and storage areas. A lot of food and most of the infrastructure of the 1950s building housing the restaurant was damaged. What most would consider a tragedy, proprietor/ manager/cook/hostess Sandamini Devi (Mother Sandamini to some) regards as a blessing on many levels. “Thank goodness, the damage was pretty minimal. Nobody was hurt. In that sense, this was kind of a cleansing,” Sandamini explains and adds with a chuckle, “The insurance process was a bit slow, so that also was the first real vacation I’d had in 30 years!”

Govinda’s is now sporting updated gas and electric lines, a storage room that doesn’t leak, a new walk-in fridge, and renovated bathrooms. In the dining room, guests are now welcomed by refreshed walls, tables, décor, and even a few more seats. Sandamini says, “I certainly wouldn’t have chosen this. But because not a blade of grass moves without the sanction of God, from a spiritual aspect, this was all for the good.” Devi is most grateful for the support from the community. “I was pleased and so proud of our Tucson. People donated money, clothes, food – there were donations in many forms. People even came to help clean up. In times of difficulties, you see and really appreciate those who come to your rescue.”

As expected, buffet and spiritual services are still going strong. Wednesday through Saturday lunch buffet is open 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and Tuesday through Saturday, Dinner is 5-9 p.m. with Sunday brunch buffet served 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Vegan and vegetarian dishes from around the world are presented throughout the month with Tuesday evening exclusively featuring dishes from India. All cuisine served on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday is Vegan. Long-time fans and the vegi-curious are all welcome to dive into scrumptious potato and cheese quesadillas, veggie and tofu manicotti, dreamy lentil soup, splendid samosas, curries and chutneys galore, and more at this blessedly renewed Tucson vegetarian/vegan favorite locale.

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