SolShine Café and Mountain House Yoga in Montague
By Megan Peterson
For Your Health
By Megan Peterson
Photos: Taryn Burkleo
In a historic cowtown like Montague, located 15 minutes east of Yreka, an organic vegan café and yoga studio might be the last thing you’d expect to find on Main Street. That is, until Nina Da Silva and Blaine McKnight opened Mountain House Yoga and the SolShine Café – Siskiyou’s only plant-based café.
And, in perhaps no small twist of irony, the café inhabits the building that was the town’s original meat-market. But, like the early homesteaders who founded Montague in 1887, Da Silva and McKnight are pioneering a new community hub focused on sustainable health and wellness, with food and yoga as their medicine. “You come and you breathe, you stretch and then you relax. Then you get up and you go eat. Diet is literally just the next step off of the mat,” explains McKnight.
Although both Da Silva and McKnight are vegans, they want to make food that tastes good for everyone, including those who eat meat. They’re also hoping to dispel any myths that vegan food is bland or esoteric. Da Silva notes, “People come in a little curious or skeptical about vegan food. Sometimes they might know what a few things are, but they feel embarrassed to ask. And then they have one bite, two bites, and they start to brighten up and say, ‘Oh wow, this is really good.’ And then by the time they leave I’m talking to them about their children and their life stories.”
The dream of a café and yoga studio was born in Mount Shasta, where McKnight and Da Silva met doing yoga. Having been professionally trained as a vegan chef at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York, Da Silva previously worked in kitchens in New York and Philadelphia before ending up in Mount Shasta. That’s when she made a philosophical connection with her partner McKnight.
McKnight explains, “The word yoga means union and the yoga teaching that we follow talks about five different things we should unify within ourselves to prepare ourselves and our body for a more abundant flow of energy. The first three things are breathing, exercise and relaxation that you’ll get in a yoga class. Then there’s meditation. But the hardest one is diet. Our teacher would say that the hardest pose to do is to push your plate away at the end of a meal.”
After Da Silva and McKnight set their intentions on opening a cafe and space, they planned to move to Tulsa, Okla., where McKnight had been established previously. Then plans changed after a temporary move near Montague to visit McKnight’s ailing grandfather. Da Silva recalls, “I drove past this shop and saw a little handwritten sign that said ‘yoga classes here.’ So I walked in and found out the owner was looking for somebody to run and teach in the yoga studio. I told her my partner teaches yoga, so he came and they hit it off. Then she mentions to him that the yoga studio was only one half of the dream. A café here was the other. And he tells her that his partner is a vegan chef. It was incredible that what we had been trying to manifest, she had been holding space for.”
The vision finally became reality in September 2019 when Mountain House Yoga and SolShine Café opened their doors. McKnight generally oversees the yoga side of the business, while Da Silva manages the café Da Silva says the food is made with “care and love.” She keeps the menu limited but changes it daily, making sure there’s always a soup, salad and sandwich option available. Da Silva is the first to admit that to someone used to the American tradition of “super-sizing,” the portions might at first appear small without realizing how dense they are. “When some people see the portions, they’re kind of surprised because they don’t think they’ll be full. But by the time they’re three-quarters of the way through, they’re full. And that’s because the nutrients are more bioavailable. They get absorbed faster.”
Already the café is drawing customers from all over the region. McKnight explains, “There are locals from Montague to people who come from Mount Shasta, Ashland and Fort Jones regularly.” This makes both McKnight and Da Silva happy in the fact that they’re building a community, not just a business. “This is literally our lifestyle and we’re trying to make it as sustainable as possible. But the pull for me in this whole experience is seeing people waking up to food as a different thing. Not just something that feels good from an external need, but something that makes you feel good from the inside out.” •
145 S. 11th St., Montague
Hours: Friday and Saturday, 11am-6:30pm;
Sunday, 11 am to 1 pm • (541) 840-3958
Mountain Yoga House
150 S. 11th St., Montague
Yoga classes on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays
from 9:30-11am and 6:30-8 pm, and from
8-9:30am on Fridays and Saturdays (prices vary)