up inspired kitchen Ron Ruggless

Jamba CMO partners on fast-casual restaurant

Up Inspired Kitchen by Rachel Phillips-Luther and her husband, Mike Luther, serves healthful fare

Up Inspired Kitchen aims to inspire on several levels, featuring a healthful fast-casual menu and an atmosphere that invites daytime lingering.

Created as a personal project by Jamba Inc. chief marketing officer Rachel Phillips-Luther and her husband, Mike Luther, whose roots in restaurants go back to Bennigan’s in the late 1980s, the new 2,400-square-foot Up Inspired Kitchen opened in May in a lifestyle center in Frisco, Texas. 

Phillps-Luther, who moved to head marketing for the Jamba Juice parent last July from her longtime marketing role at Zoe’s Kitchen Inc., said the new restaurant is focused on healthful items that appeal to various diets, including Whole 30, Paleo and gluten-free.

Mike Luther will oversee the day-to-day operations of the Up Inspired Kitchen concept; Phillips-Luther will continue her business relationship with the restaurant, but will focus on her role at Jamba. 

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At Up Inspired Kitchen in Frisco, Texas, from left: Mike Luther, Rachel Phillips-Luther and chef Todd Duplechan

The Luthers collaborated with Todd Duplechan, chef and owner at Lenoir in Austin, Texas, to create the menu of eggs and toast-based breakfast items, as well as salads, bowls and burgers for lunch.  

“Todd aligned with our desire to help people eat well and helped to build a menu that makes people feel great, paying attention to glycemic impact and reducing, or eliminating, processed foods and added sugars where possible,” Phillips-Luther said.

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The ordering area

Items range from toasts, including one with seasonal root vegetables, spinach, poached cage-free egg and sherry vinaigrette on sourdough for $8, to steak and eggs with wheat berries at $15. Salads and bowls range from $6.50 to $12.50. Dishes reflect the chef’s background, such as “Biscuits n Groovy,” a cornbread and serrano muffin topped with egg and cauliflower gravy.

An eight-item kids’ menu is also available to appeal to families with children.

“The goal of our menu was to provide an elevated, better-for-you breakfast, brunch and lunch offering,” Phillips-Luther said in an email.

“When developing the concept of Up, we realized there were limited options in this healthier space among fast-casual restaurants,” she added. “We wanted to prove that real food, honestly sourced with no processed ingredients, could still deliver on flavor. Breakfast should be about fueling up, not being weighted down with unhealthy additives.”

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Muffins at Up Inspired Kitchen

While the lion’s share of the menu is health-oriented, a five-item section is offered for “cheat days,” with pancakes, French toast and a short rib grilled cheese sandwich.

“We created the ‘Cheat Day’ category as a means to still deliver the comfort food breakfast and lunch items that we all crave,” she said.

Phillips-Luther said top sellers in the first month include a Tahoe wrap with avocado, turkey, Cheddar cheese, salsa verde and scrambled eggs in a whole-wheat tortilla, as well as avocado toast, ham and cheese toast, spinach salad, pancakes and a breakfast burger of Akaushi beef, sausage, fried egg, Cheddar cheese, pickles, onion, mustard and arugula.

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The lighting at Up Inspired Kitchen

The décor is what Phillips-Luther called a “West Coast feel,” featuring white subway tiles and a variety of tables configuration, most of which are near electrical outlets to let guests charge electronic devices. The restaurant has 50 seats inside and 40 seats on a partially covered patio 

Up Inspired Kitchen also has a proprietary coffee program served from a full espresso bar. A build-your-own mimosa sampler features a bottle of champagne, two fresh juices and kombucha, and the restaurant also offers beers on tap and in a grab-and-go case.

Update: June 22, 2017 This article has been updated with additional information.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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