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Certified Healthy—New Designation for Four Local Restaurants

by Vaun Thygerson
Contributing writer and mother of three

Four local restaurants were recently designated “Certified Healthy” by Kern County Public Health Services in an effort to help combat some of the lifestyle-related diseases that plague our county. According to the Public Health department, Kern County is ranked worst in the state for diabetes, with 43 percent of the population deemed obese. In addition, 1,000 residents die annually from heart disease.

The first four restaurants to receive this honor include Locale Farm to Table Eatery, Coconut Joe’s, Rio Acai, and Better Bowls. Kern County restaurants require health certification for operational approval, but this groundbreaking program takes public service a step further; it tells customers that the restaurant is certified healthy in a nutritional sense, as well. In order to participate in this program, these restaurants had to meet a strict set of criteria.

Coconut Joe’s menu remains full of the healthy-centered beach food they’ve been serving since 1987, but they now take their menu to an even healthier level with their new "CJ Lite" options. Recently, they rolled out new salads, wraps, and bowls to broaden their lite selections. The response from their customers has been positive and Owner Joe Coughlin says coming up with new menu items has been fun. He wants to encourage other restaurants to participate in this much-needed program to help reduce heart disease and general obesity.

Coughlin says he wants his customers to be doers in life, not viewers of life, and he wants to serve the food that will fuel an active lifestyle. “We have always wanted to be more than just a restaurant, more than just food,” he says. “We want to be a life philosophy.”

Life, energy, and food are inextricably linked. In addition to providing good food for fuel, Coughlin also shares his mission with his Coconut College presentations where he describes the three f’s: food, fun, and filosophy.

Another restaurant, Locale Farm to Table Eatery, was qualified based 100 percent on its current menu. Owner Heather Laganelli opened her restaurant three years ago to take advantage of Kern County’s unique geographical location with the surrounding farms. With year-round goods, she can locally source the majority of her menu items, and when she can’t, she buys certified organic and sustainable. “It’s important that you care about what you put in your body, and it will pay off in the long run,” she says.

For more information or to participate in the much-needed program, please call the Kern County Public Health Department at 661-321-3000. To download the app, visit

4 LOCAL Certified Healthy Restaurants

Locale Farm to Table Eatery

Owner: Heather Laganelli

1723 18th Street, Unit A, Bakersfield


Coconut Joe’s

Owner: Joe Coughlin

4158 California Avenue, Bakersfield


Rio Acai Bowls

Owners: Justin and Sophia Cummings

2720 Calloway Drive, Unit C, Bakersfield


Better Bowls

Owners: Blake and Jina McMillan

1818 G Street, Bakersfield


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Tags: Featured Story, Food & Home, Green, Health

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