Next week, on June 6, Colorado's first LYFE Kitchen will open in Park Meadows, offering suburbanites, shoppers and eaters with a conscience a fast-casual concept that celebrates a healthy lifestyle rooted in a three-pronged philosophy: "Eat Good. Feel Good. Do Good."
The owners of LYFE Kitchen, Rachel and DJ Mitchell, a married couple who grew up together in Chicago and worked for McDonald's and McDonald's Corporation, have also inked a deal on a Boulder location, specifically the former Cafe Goldelier space at 1600 Pearl Street, which the Mitchells will open in September or October, and, they say, it'll mimic the Park Meadows store, a bright, airy and modern space that's bedecked with locally-sourced reclaimed beetlewood, a mural that's a blowup of a John Fielder Colorado landscape painting showcasing a Palisade peach harvest, bamboo light fixtures, plyboo tables, a sequoia wood community table, and a three-tiered grow wall flush with dozens of different varieties of fresh herbs.
LYFE's executive chef, Jeremy Bringgardner, who designed the menu in collaboration with celebrity chefs Art Smith and Tal Ronnen, will temporarily spearhead the kitchen, and he's just coming off a huge high: The Michigan-born chef just won a recent episode of Chopped, the Food Network show that pits three chefs against one another in a mystery basket battle. Bringgardner won $10,000 for his victory, which he nailed, he says, after practicing dozens of challenges at home. Not that he needed to: Before signing on with LYFE Kitchen, Bringgardner spent several years cooking at the now-shuttered Charlie Trotter's in Chicago. But while the food at Charlie Trotter's was terrific, it was also luxurious and rich, and Bringgardner, who admits that he takes very good care of his body, turned to a different kind of eating and cooking when he signed on with LYFE Kitchen. "I'm really into nutrient-dense foods -- good food that's fuel for your body -- and LYFE Kitchen is about making food healthy, but also making it taste really good," he says.
And, he adds, LYFE Kitchen subscribes to an "open-arms approach," meaning, he says, that there's something on the menu (nothing is more than 600 calories, by the way), for vegans, vegetarians, carnivores and those with Celiac disease and other food allergies. "It's really a vegan-based concept, insomuch that we add proteins to the dishes later," he notes. The beers, all of which are draft, are local, and the wines by the glass, all kegged, include three reds and four whites, one of which -- the Grüner Veltliner -- is bio-dynamic and SIP-certified, an acronym that refers to wines that adhere to high standards of habitat conservation, energy efficiency, pest management, water conservation, economic stability, soil fertility, irrigation and more.
LYFE Kitchen is also the first -- and only -- restaurant in the world to be Well-certified, a designation that goes several steps further than LEED-certified, which focuses solely on the design and construction of a restaurant. Well-certification, on the other hand, is a building certification based on seven categories -- mind, comfort, fitness, light, nourishment, water and air -- that relate to optimizing the health of the building's occupants, as well as the building itself. And it's that kind of dedication to health optimization, says Mike Donahue, brand relations officer and co-founder of the company, that sets LYFE Kitchen apart. "We take great pride in being a leader in social responsibility, and we go to the nth-degree to make sure that we're leaders and innovators in that area -- and we think that customers will reward us for that commitment," stresses Donahue.
For their part, owners Rachel and DJ say that couldn't be happier with the crew they have in place -- and their dedication to the "Eat Good. Feel Good. Do Good." ideology. "It's been insanity, but our team has executed at the highest level -- dare I say, flawlessly -- and they truly believe in what we're doing, and I'm so excited to start serving guests our delicious food," says Rachel.
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By the end of this year, there will be twelve LYFE Kitchens throughout the country, including two in Colorado. When LYFE Kitchen opens in Park Meadows, it'll serve breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Here's an early glimpse of what you can expect.