LYFE Kitchen, the health-focused concept from former McDonald’s president and chief operating officer Mike Roberts, opens Oct. 12 in Palo Alto, Calif., with all dishes under 600 calories.
Roberts envisions LYFE — an acronym for “love your food every day” — as the first in a potentially national chain that will offer healthful food in a fast-casual setting.
He has partnered with investment banker Stephen Sidwell, chief executive of Devante Capital and an early investor in Gardein Protein International, a plant-based protein manufacturer based in Canada.
Art Smith, formerly Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef, and Tal Ronnen, executive chef at Gardein, developed LYFE’s menu. Both are known for promoting healthful eating.
The concept is among a growing number of restaurant brands aiming for more health-conscious diners, including Seasons 52, owned by Orlando, Fla.-based Darden Restaurants Inc., and True Food Kitchen, from Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Fox Restaurant Concepts.
LYFE’s menu includes a mix of familiar dishes and vegan and vegetarian options. Symbols on the menu designate vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free items, and dishes are customizable to fit dietary preferences. Even the ketchup is housemade, to reduce its sugar content.
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Company officials say the menu will include organic and locally grown produce where possible.
“Going local whenever possible has benefits not only for the consumer, but for our business as well,” Roberts said in a statement. “Responsible ingredient sourcing ensures freshness and quickness of delivery to our restaurant, supports the local community, and is the overall right thing to do.”
Most dishes will range from $5 to $15.
The company has enlisted a registered dietitian and an independent lab to analyze the menu items in an effort to maintain nutritional standards — including the 600-calorie limit and less than 1,000 milligrams of sodium per dish.
The menu includes a classic burger made with grass-fed beef topped with organic romaine lettuce, tomato, red onion, agave-sweetened pickles, and a choice of Cheddar, Swiss or goat cheese on a multigrain bun.
Other dishes include:
• Tal’s Ancient Grains Bowl with stir-fried Gardein beef tips and vegetables over farro and quinoa with sweet chile ginger sauce
• Art’s Unfried Chicken with roasted kabocha squash, Brussels sprouts, dried cranberries and Dijon vinaigrette
• Farmer’s Market Oven-baked Frittata with whipped egg whites and a choice of vegetables, turkey sausages or Gardein breakfast sausage and cheese
• Art’s Start, steel-cut Irish oatmeal with dried cranberries, granola, Greek yogurt and maple syrup
• BBQ Chicken Flatbread, with free-range grilled chicken, sweet yellow corn, roasted onion, cilantro, agave barbecue sauce and artisan cheese
• Sweet Corn Chowder made with cashew cream and topped with cherry tomatoes and chopped herbs
• Eggplant Parmesan with breaded eggplant medallions topped with pomodoro sauce, melted cheese and garlic broccolini
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Beverages include beer and biodynamic wines, as well as fair-trade coffee, juices, smoothies, various teas and fresh-squeezed lemonade.
Kids’ meals include pancakes, a tomato-mozzarella flatbread pizza, chicken parmesan, and an almond butter and banana roll-up.
Despite the menu restrictions, dessert is offered, with a banana-rum cheesecake and chocolate flourless cake on the menu.
The restaurant eschews preservatives, additives, cream, butter and monosodium glutamate, or MSG, the company said.