When asked what piqued their interest about Pomegranate Cafe’s monthly movie nights, Patty Immekus was quick to tell an anecdote about her friend Karen DeDonato, sitting next to her at a small table painted magenta.

Once when she and her coworkers were asked what they would like to buy with a large commission, the people around her said they wanted a BMW or the like. DeDonato, however, thought for a moment and said, “I want to go to India and save all the elephants.”

Which is why they jumped at the chance when they saw Wednesday’s movie event on Pomegranate’s Facebook page.

The earth-conscious neighborhood cafe offered a showing of the documentary “Urban Elephants,” which followed the lives of several elephants in captivity around the world. From circuses to zoos and even to the streets of Bangkok, the sometimes tear-jerking piece focused on how society is evolving its philosophy on how to treat these gentle giants and meet their most basic needs, namely wide open spaces and social interaction with a herd.

For $15 attendees got to view the film and received homemade organic popcorn with a variety of unique seasonings. A portion of the fee to attend went toward Wildlife SOS India, which aims to rescue mistreated elephants from private owners. Pomegranate will also be adding an “elephant bowl” to its fall menu to continue to raise money for the organization.

Steve Koyle, senior elephant keeper at the Phoenix Zoo, was on hand to answer questions after the film. He offered insights into his 10 years of pachyderm care, but insisted humbly at several points that he was not the end-all-be-all authority on the subject.

“I’m just a guy who’s lucky enough to have elephants share their life with me,” Koyle said.

Some of the documentaries they have shown in the past are “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” and “Simply Raw” with guest speaker Dr. Kirt Tyson. Future movie nights will occur on the third Wednesday of every month.

“Since we’re not open at nights we’re really using the evenings as a free form space,” said Cassie Tolman, who owns the restaurant with her mother, Marlene. “We asked, ‘What does the community want?’ So we’re trying to provide that.”

Pomegranate also will begin hosting art classes and shows. Rebecca Ross is a local photographer and public artist, and her collection “From the Garden” features abstract silver prints made in the garden at night. Pomegranate will be hosting an opening show with Rebecca and a local poet, scheduled tentatively for Saturday, Sept. 22. Ross will also be acting as guest curator for future art exhibits this year.

Pomegranate recently featured the Lit Mamas Tour 2012, a night of laughs with five professional writer/performers who shared true stories about being a parent. They are collaborating with their neighbors Wedge & Bottle, who will be hosting a Pomegranate Friends Happy Hour before their special events.

Cooking classes such as “Plant Based Foods Everyday Basics” with raw food chef Elaina Love will take place Sept. 6 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and “Roots and Greens Cooking Class” with chef Melanie Albert will be on Sept. 13 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Wildly Organic Women, hosted by Valerie Tourangeau, will meet on topics such as healthy cleaning products, pesticide alternatives, recycling and conservation (protecting our air, water and soil), healthy pets, greening your home, and how to read personal care products labels on the first Wednesday of every month, starting Oct. 3 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

“I waited for this restaurant to open,” said DeDonato, who happens to live next door to the Tolmans. “I’m so proud of their success in this economy. I think they’ve helped shift people’s consciousness.”

Also coming in the fall is a “10,000 Hours Creativity” class with photographer/writer/artist Phyllis Lane, and “Awesomely Healthy Teens,” hosted by health coach Jaime Parker, which will feature topics such as positive self esteem, building healthy friendships, exercise and wellness, healthy eating and body image.

“Some people think they have to drive all the way to downtown Phoenix or Tempe for events, but the community is right here and we’ve got a lot of vibrant people in the community and we’re providing something that’s really unique to Ahwatukee,” Tolman said.

Pomegranate Cafe is located at 4025 E. Chandler Blvd., Suite 28. For more information, call (480) 706-7472 or visit www.pomegranatecafe.com.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7911 or ewhitmore@ahwatukee.com

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