Wen Qin’s philosophy when it comes to integrating business and food is to strengthen and support his patrons both physically and mentally, he said.

It's why he named his first business on Bellaire Boulevard, which he opened in 2014, Sustain Juicery. He opened the gluten-free bakery and cafe Leven in August 2023, just down the road.

“I can only change things in my own neighborhood, in my own household and through what I do—which is food and beverage,” Qin said.
Leven's menu includes baked goods and breakfast items, such as custard French toast. (Courtesy Leven Baking Company)
No item on Leven’s menu uses wheat flour, Qin said. The drinks at the cafe are made with organic grounds. The shared plates—smoky eggplant dip, sauteed mushrooms, and chips and guacamole—are all made with vegetables.

His ultimate goal, he said, is to change the overall food industry by educating children about healthy eating, starting in Bellaire.
Wen Qin, owner of Leven Bakery & Cafe, was inspired by the line of local vendors alongside his street as a youth in Shanghai. (Asia Armour/Community Impact)
Put in perspective

Qin is from Shanghai, ”The New York of China” he claimed. In the 1980s, there were no supermarkets near his home.

“You go on the street, and all you see on the street is farmers [and] vendors there," Qin said. "Everyone’s selling their thing on the street ... fish, beef, a vegetable farmer, another vegetable farmer,” Qin said.

The idea of this marketplace for fresh products, variety and local, competitive vendors motivates him in his own work, Qin said.
Salads, bowls and appetizers composed of a variety of vegetables make Leven's cafe menu. (Courtesy Leven Baking Company)
Respecting the craft

The menu’s dishes take inspiration from countries around the world, including a Mediterranean chicken bowl, fried chicken sandwich and turmeric roasted cauliflower—which Qin said reflects the diversity of the area.

“This is an international city. ... People come from all cultures to appreciate our food,” Qin said.

Qin said his next goal is to bring the Leven warehouse for Leven Baking Company to Bellaire—closer to the restaurant. He said he wants everything he does to be local.

“I want to make this place the go-to place," Qin said. "I want to build something that lasts for generations.”