LYFE Kitchen is now inviting downtown residents and visitors to Love Your Food Everyday inside the recently restored 1913 Chisca building, located at 272 S. Main.
"The Chisca is a fantastic downtown landmark, and it's the perfect location to put a LYFE Kitchen," LYFE senior brand manager Robert Griffin says. "We are serving a niche, but we also see ourselves as blending right in."
The niche they fill is to offer appetizing food that happens to be good for you. They strive to serve as much locally sourced food as possible as well as use as many organically grown items as they can. And there are no processed foods, no white flour, no white sugar, no GMOs, no butter, no cream, no fryers, and no microwaves.
"We focus on delicious food that's accessible to anybody," Griffin says. "We focus on it being delicious so you will want to eat it every day."
The national corporation, which operates 19 other locations in six states, first set up shop in Memphis in August of last year at 6201 Poplar near I-240 after the Memphis-based, real estate development and franchise company Carlisle Corporation purchased a majority of the company and moved its headquarters to the Bluff City.
The new downtown location is similar but different to its East Memphis counterpart.
Most menu items are the same across the board at all locations, however the Chisca Kitchen does not serve breakfast, as of yet, but it does offer brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
Each LYFE Kitchen pays attention to its neighborhood's identity, so the Chisca location's decor is unique because its mothership is unique.
The Chisca opened as a hotel in 1913 as an accommodation for middle class clients. It became the site for DJ Daddy-O Dewey Phillips' radio show "Red, Hot and Blue," which first brought Elvis to the masses by playing his hit "That's All Right" on the radio for the first time. It became the national headquarters for the Church of God in Christ, and then fell into disrepair in the '80s.
After threats of tearing it down, locals rallied to preserve it and its history until Main Street Apartment Partners LLC purchased the building in 2013 and partnered with the Carlisle group to restore it.
Upon completion, it will house 150 apartments, a parking garage, and another Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman baby they'll be calling Catherine & Mary's.
Perhaps the most significant feature to the Chisca LYFE Kitchen is its patio, which, when it opens, hopefully during March Madness, weather permitting, will offer a unique dining experience right on S. Main.
"I can't wait until spring. People will be clamoring to come see us," Griffin says.
He says their No. 1 best-seller is the Mahi Tacos ($10 for two), hands-down, even with the most elite of connoisseurs.
"We have six locations in L.A., and they're used to authentic Southern California fish tacos. They love it," Griffin says. "Mahi is known as a good cut of fish, and our salsa is homemade."
They pride themselves on their accessibility to anyone, particularly those with dietary restrictions, so they offer several gluten-free items and vegan choices.
"All of our flatbreads are naturally gluten-free, and we offer tofu as a protein add-on," Griffin says. "We want anybody to be able to come in and enjoy a meal with their family, whether they are gluten-free by choice or necessity."
Even their desserts are healthy and delicious.
The food is described as fast fine, with all items served on china, and every item on the menu is less than 600 calories and has less than 1,000 milligrams of sodium. Dishes range anywhere from $6 for a flatbread to $14. They have burgers and Unfried Chicken and wraps and quinoa.
They also have a bar.
"We have a full bar that's perfect before a Grizzlies game or a Tigers game. We'll be a great stop for the Trolley Tour nights. We will have happy hour," Griffin says. "It all plays perfectly with downtown. Our presence downtown fits right in with the cool vibe going on on S. Main."
"We're excited. We've had a great response already," Griffin says.