by Nancy Stiles
It's going to be a big year for Athlete Eats (2837 Cherokee Street; 314-932-5566), the polished cafe from the Cardinals' nutritionist. Owners Simon and Angelica Lusky are planning a threefold expansion which will include a second location, a food truck and a fine-dining concept.
Athlete Eats first opened on Cherokee Street in January as a vehicle for the Luskys' prepared, high-protein and health-conscious meals that St. Louis' top athletes love. You can also get fresh, made-to-order health food. It's also completely gluten-free.
Lusky tells Gut Check the second Athlete Eats will open in Brentwood in a 1,200-square-foot space. Breakfast and lunch will be available every day (on Cherokee breakfast is only served on the weekends), along with an "elevated" coffee program. "It's hopefully about six months away -- we have to do the buildout," Lusky says. "We're super excited about that. You can't get any more centrally located in St. Louis."
About two months before Athlete Eats Brentwood opens its doors, the Luskys plan to have the food truck on the street. Prepared meals, as well as made-to-order dishes, smoothies and juices, will be available on the mobile restaurant. "We want to appeal to the person with a time crunch who wants to eat something healthy, who can't even make it to the cafe," he says.
Most ambitious, perhaps, is the fine-dining concept. It will involve expanding Athlete Eats into a restaurant group and bringing in a lot more people. The team has a few names in mind for the group and the new restaurant, but nothing is set yet; Clayton is a possible location.
"It's something we've always been interested in. We've got a hold over the fast casual, and there's some things that I haven't been able to do under the Athlete Eats umbrella, because we do 100 percent gluten-free," Lusky says. "As a nutritionist, I think gluten's vital -- you should have it. So it'll be nice to have a place where we have more free rein, higher price points, more extensive things."
One thing the restaurant will bring to St. Louis is a health-conscious bar program, including sustainable wines and cocktails with fresh juices. Lusky says you shouldn't feel guilty about having a drink.
"I think any time you get ambitious, it's always a little scary. The most important thing is having a strong team," he says. "It's definitely a lot, but everything's just lining up -- not just for Athlete Eats, but to grow [the business]."
Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at Nancy.Stiles@RiverfrontTimes.com.
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