LYFE Kitchen opened its seventh restaurant this month in Plano, Texas, its first unit in the Lone Star State.

The location is the first of three units planned to open in the Dallas market by the end of July. The three-year-old Chicago-based concept has two units in Illinois and four in California.

Mike Donahue, LYFE Kitchen’s brand relations officer and a partner in the company, told Nation’s Restaurant News Tuesday that the chain plans to open in Boulder, Colo., plus several additional locations in Southern California and one in New York.

“By the end of the year, we’ll ideally have about 13,” said Donahue.  

Donahue said the Texas restaurants are typical of the real estate LYFE Kitchen is looking for as it expands.

“Our footprint is in that 3,500- to 4,000-square-foot range. We have one bigger one where we do our training. That’s in Culver City [Calif.], and it’s about twice that size,” he said.

LYFE also tries to occupy real estate with patio seating, Donahue said.

“It fits with the active lifestyles and the type of brand we want to be,” he added. “We like to call ourselves a ‘lifestyle brand’ more than anything else.”

The new Plano location offers patio seating on two sides of the corner location.

Guests order at the counter and are given a location-finding coaster. Servers deliver food to tables.

“We’re doing everything we can to be socially responsible and use recycled materials,” Donahue added. “We use LEED lighting...and renewable resources like bamboo tabletops. We use recycled water bottles for some of our cushions and furniture.

“For our wine program, we bring in wine on tap so there are absolutely no bottles. We eliminate two to three tons of solid waste per restaurant per year by not having wine bottles,” he said.

The health-oriented concept debuted in Palo Alto, Calif., three years ago. It was developed by Mike Roberts, a former president and chief operating officer of McDonald’s Corp., and investment banker Stephen Sidwell.

Chefs Art Smith, who has worked with television host Oprah Winfrey, and Tal Ronnen, a proponent of vegan dining, consult with LYFE executive chef Jeremy Bringardner.

“We like to think of ourselves as a ‘United Nations of Food,’” Donahue said. “We’re protein agnostic. We’ve got chicken, grass-fed beef, the fish, and if you have gluten-free or vegetarian requirements, we have that as well.”

Separate specialty menus are labeled with “GF” for gluten-free and “V” for vegetarian; the intent is to make it simple and enjoyable.

“We want to make it as easy as possible,” Donahue said.

“LYFE” is an acronym that stands for “love your food every day.”

As LYFE Kitchen moves into Texas and Colorado, a few menu additions will be coming, he said.

“We’re going to have bison in both markets,” Donahue said. “We think that will be popular for sure in Colorado, and likely in Texas. Also, we’re planning to introduce a spicy black bean bowl, which offers the opportunity for a few more spices and heat.”

Menu items have less than 600 calories and contain fewer than 1,000 milligrams of sodium, the company said. Popular current items include the Pizzadillawich, folded pizza stuffed with eggplant, peppers, onions, goat cheese, mozzarella and basil, served with pomodoro sauce for dipping, and a Buffalo Chicken Wrap, which features avocado, black beans, Greek yogurt and kale, wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla.

LYFE Kitchen is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and also offers catering and delivery.

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless