Two former McDonald’s executives are trying to make kale, quinoa, and other upscale foods mainstream with a restaurant chain called LYFE Kitchen.
The chain, which calls itself “fresh casual,” has 12 locations and ambitious plans to open another 250 within the next five years.
Every dish on the menu is under 600 calories with less than 1,000 milligrams of sodium, and the average check size is $US4 to $US14, according to the company.
Butter, trans fats, white sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and other food additives are barred from the menu, and locally sourced ingredients are used when available.
Jason Barell, a friend of the site, shared pictures of one of LYFE Kitchen’s Colorado locations with us.
Mike Roberts, the former global president of McDonald's, teamed up with Stephen Sidwell, who helped found the meat substitute Gardein, and Mike Donahue, McDonald's USA's former chief of corporate communications, to launch LYFE Kitchen three years ago.
Inside, the seating includes a mix of padded benches, standalone chairs, and couches. Small pots of herbs and pepper grinders are arranged on the tables. 'The ambiance is modern, welcoming, and clean,' Barell says.
This wall of herbs is central to all LYFE Kitchen locations. It displays basil, bay leaves, lavender, chives, oregano, and a variety of other herbs used on the menu.
Drink options are displayed on chalkboards behind the counter and customers can browse the full menu on touch-screen tablets at the register.
There are a variety of menus customised to various food preferences, including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free.
The bar menu includes cocktails, such as cucumber margaritas, as well as wine, sangria, and local beers on tap.
The menu was built by Food Network star Jeremy Bringardner, vegan chef Tal Ronnen, and Art Smith, Oprah Winfrey's former chef.
Customers order their food at the counter and have the option of taking it to go or sitting at a table, where their food will be served by a waiter.
Barell ordered LYFE Kitchen's cucumber mint water, which features fresh cucumber juice with mint, lime, and agave.
He also ordered the Grilled Chicken and Avocado sandwich and substituted the grilled chicken for 'Art's Unfried Chicken' at the cashier's recommendation. The sandwich is served with roasted tomatoes, avocado, romaine, and aioli on an oatmeal bun. Barell said he spent a total of $15.
'The sandwich was on the smaller side and at first sight I thought I was going to be hungry after this meal,' Barell said. But he said it was 'delicious' and 'had the perfect amount of each ingredient.'
One of the chain's most popular dishes is the 'Unfried Chicken' with roasted brussels sprouts, butternut squash, dried cranberries, and cashew cream.
This is the 273-calorie Barramundi Noodle Bowl featuring sea bass with soba noodles, mushrooms, scallions, and edamame in kimchi broth.
The 562-calorie Crispy Gardein Chick'n is also popular. It features shishito pepper relish, romaine lettuce, tomato, and chipotle aioli on an oatmeal bun.
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