Collier and Lee Counties Edition

A Love Affair with Food

Lisa Ji

Lisa Ji

On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, For Goodness Sake customers chat with Lisa Ji, while she whips up their tasty sandwiches, wraps, soups or chili choices on the café menu of the popular health food store in Bonita Springs. One of the longest continuously operating health food stores in Southwest Florida, For Goodness Sake has unceasingly played a significant role in promoting a healthy lifestyle since it opened for business 35 years ago.

Considered an icon of local, healthy-minded shoppers, the store, its new owner, Bruce Ford, and other staff members are like family to Ji. “I’ve been shopping and hanging out here for many years with my two children now ages 7 and 10. It’s like our second home, which is why I was so happy to learn last summer of the job opening here. I had some sense of what the job entailed, and my children were back in school, so I thought I’d try something different than the gallery work, outfitting people for hiking adventures, and other work I’d done in the past. It’s been a fun experience learning the ropes as I go,” says Ji, who loves to cook.

Lisa Ji

Ji grew up learning how to garden and cook with her mom. “There are amazing cooks in my family, and among my friends there are so many creative cooks that enjoy contributing their delicious dishes to our terrific potlucks. Food and its chemistry fascinate me. Cooking is an art form that I love everything about, and I’ve been inspired by every aspect of the food movement, including the chefs that create traditional foods with produce and herbs that they find in other parts of the world. I’m a newbie to professional cooking, and if I ever get the opportunity to go back to school to learn to be a chef, I just might do it,” says Ji, who notes that over the years that the store has been open, the café has had several amazing cooks. One woman was brilliant and created fabulous vegan and raw food recipes. After my daughter, Bella, was born I worked out at the gym next door and came here regularly to buy her raw pies.    

“It’s a shame that for many years customers didn’t realize that the store had a café and juice bar, or that it carried any fresh organic produce. The way it was previously set up, the cafe was tucked away out of view from a customer when they entered the store. Bruce has made so many great changes; added a CBD dispensary and a display to show off our fresh produce, and he reorganized the floorplan to allow customers a sweeping view of the entire store, including the café. As a result, we have regular customers, which makes me happy and inspires me to continue creating new recipes. My favorite thing to make is soup. It’s my soul food,” advises Ji, who is looking forward to helping For Goodness Sake develop a variety of ways to attract more local, year-round customers interested in creating a sense of community around the store.

“This is a really great hub for good food and good conversations. Those of us who work here share a sense of community. We don’t want to keep that to ourselves. We want to add to it,” says Ji.

For Goodness Sake is located at 9118 Bonita Beach Rd. SE, in Bonita Springs. For more information, call 239- 992-5838 or visit ForGoodnessSakes.com.

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