Govinda's Gets New Life On River Road

It may not be quite what you think.

Govinda's Vegetarian Buffet, a new restaurant at 1030 River Road, has roots that run deep into the culinary and spiritual beliefs of the Hare Krishna movement.

But if you're picturing finger cymbals, robes and airport lobbies, you're well off the mark.

"That's pretty much history," says David Minor, who opened the restaurant earlier this month. "The movement's evolved. Krishna consciousness has expanded all over the world, and it's like a tree - there are so many branches. But it's always stuck to the principles."

Those would include healthfulness and spirituality, which is where the restaurant comes in.

Govinda's restaurants can be found worldwide, operated independently either by temples or - as in Minor's case - by individual devotees. There is no set menu or format, although most offer at least some East Indian dishes. None serve foods with meat, fish, eggs, onions or garlic - all of which are considered either physically or spiritually harmful.

"One of the primary activities of (Hare Krishna) devotees is to prepare, offer food to God and distribute it," Minor says. "We have guidelines that our spiritual master gave us, in terms of diet and how to offer the food."