"Food is my way of expressing gratitude."
To Juli, spreading love and feeding people is a singular idea.
Juli grew up in Bogota, Colombia. Her mother was a nutritionist, and she learned to cook when she was 15 years old. “Food is a way to bring people together, to say thank you, to invite them into your home, to welcome them,” she says.
In Bogota, Juli earned a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management from Sabana University. Upon graduation, she received a scholarship to attend the famous Cesar Ritz College in Switzerland where she earned a secondary degree in International Business in Hotel and Tourism Management.
A couple months after starting a job at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Charlotte, she met Randy, who was teaching her yoga class. Nearly two years later, they became engaged, and in 2009 they opened a vegetarian restaurant, Real Food Charlotte. In July 2010, they reopened as Luna’s Living Kitchen. “I wanted to make the restaurant unique — something completely unexplored in Charlotte — and to share healthy food with the community,” she says.
In 2011, Stephen Edwards came to eat at Luna’s. He had spent years in business working with healthy living products and restaurants, but was looking to grow the vision of a small restaurant with nutritious food and a vibrant spirit. Luna’s authenticity was unlike other places he visited, and he joined as Juli’s business partner.
Today, Juli is the heartbeat of the restaurant, but she is quick to give away credit. It is her team, her friends and her customers, she says, that have nurtured the Luna’s community defined by food and friendship.