For Allison Rifkin, healthy eating is personal, partly because an anti-inflammatory diet helped her manage a misdiagnosed autoimmune thyroid issue, and partly because she’d happily chat with you for hours about food — how it’s evolved, what’s really in it, and how simple lifestyle changes can work miracles.
Simple lifestyle changes — like focusing on fresh, whole foods, natural ingredients and all that’s good for the gut — are the essence of The Green Collective, Rifkin’s fast-casual health-food eatery, now open at 2158 West 32nd Avenue in LoHi.
“I noticed a bunch of holistic concepts [in Denver], but not the one I wanted to see," Rifkin says. "It was important to make healthy eating very approachable. I didn’t want this concept to be intimidating.”
Rifkin, a Colorado native, has a background in marketing and traditional advertising but has always been passionate about health and wellness. Her passion was strong enough that she went back to school at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to become a certified health coach.
In opening the Green Collective with Jamie, her sister and business partner, Rifkin’s hope is to be the neighborhood one-stop shop for food that’s as tasty as it is nutritious. Among its many brightly colored and fresh-tasting offerings, the Green Collective’s menu comprises soups, salads, smoothie bowls, a vivid spectrum of cold-pressed juices, adaptogenic lattes and mix-and-match toast flights (a fun idea in the evolution of the toast craze). The floor-to-ceiling windows and natural light emphasize the eatery’s brand: bright, fresh and open.
Rifkin got a little help creating the perfect fast-casual health-food menu from Jamie, as well as chef Lauren Egdahl, who has a master’s degree in nutrition and integrative health. “I like things that taste healthy, like the green Detox juice, which is pretty intense," Rifkin admits. "But my sister likes things that taste...not as much like health food. When [we were] crafting the menu, there were a million items I wanted to add. Making [healthy] foods taste good adds to being approachable.”
And the Collective is green in more ways than one. “We wanted to play off of ‘green’ in health and vibrancy, but also in sustainability," Rifkin explains. "We’re composting basically everything and offer a reusable juice-bottle program.”
After a year of delays, the eatery is finally open and ready to serve its customers. “It’s all about balance," Rifkin says. "Food is medicine, and it can heal and change you.”
The Green Collective is located on the ground floor of the new 32V building and is now open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Call 720-7080-6865 or visit greencollectiveeatery.com for details.