Published April 6th, 2016 at 11:09 AM
For years, all Staci Cross wanted was a healthy dinner on the road – something that would allow her to keep going while she traveled the country selling her company’s video for new parents to hospitals. In a sea of chain restaurants, she found herself ending up at Whole Foods more often than not, putting together vegan meals from scratch.
When the self-described “serial entrepreneur,” stopped traveling, she realized that the need for healthy food on the go was the same when she was at home. And so, Enjoy Pure Food and Drink (10573 Mission Road) – a new concept that opened today in Leawood’s Mission Farms — was born.
“I did this because I don’t feel like there is enough healthy food that is accessible,” said Cross. “This is about vibrant foods that you can eat day after day and feel strong. It’s something that we don’t have a lot of in Kansas City.”
The space, the former home of Smallcakes and Natasha’s Mulberry & Mott, has the clean lines, white walls, and light wood of Scandinavian design. There’s a row of green-cushioned banquets – seating for 30 inside, with another 10 chairs on the patio. You order at the counter and your food is delivered to the table. While you wait, you can read about ingredients or nutrition on table cards. Cross envisions a mix of dine in and grab-and-go business (courtesy of items like Evolve Paleo’s protein balls).
The menu is based off her vision of highlighting non-processed, plant-based, organic food. Chef Michael Smith, of Extra Virgin and Michael Smith, served as a consultant and developed the food menu. Karen Kipp and Tess Masters, also known as the Juice Goddess and Blender Girl respectively, created the lineup of cold-pressed juices and smoothies. Kipp, a local holistic health coach, and Masters are also investors in the eatery.
“Everything is very intentionally prepared,” said Cross. “We don’t use anything processed. There’s no white sugar or flour and we make all our menu items in house.”
The menu items are grouped in fives. There are five smoothies (which are soy, gluten and whey-free) and juices, along with five bowls, salads, and sandwiches. Cross points to a bowl of buckwheat soba noodles as a potential early favorite, a gluten-free combination of pickled cucumbers and nori. The juices all end in “-zing,” like the Vitalizing, a mix of carrots, sweet potatoes, cucumber, orange, lemon, ginger, turmeric, vanilla and cinnamon. The sandwiches, like an open-faced tuna sandwich or organic turkey, are part of what Cross terms “bridge food,” for those new to plant-based diets.
Enjoy will feature breakfast items – Clean Livin’ (a bowl featuring acai), umami (a savory bowl of organic steel cut oats, tamari, flax seed, avocado and pumpkin seeds), and toasts topped with avocado and egg. They’ll also serve organic, fair trade coffee from The Roasterie.
“It’s the kind of food that can keep people moving,” said Cross, who anticipates a morning crowd from Fusion Fitness next door.
In the coming weeks, Cross intends to add organic wine and beer to the menu, and offer online ordering. She also could envision a series of Enjoy Pure Food and Drink eateries, and is looking at locations on the Missouri side.
“You have to be mindful and know that how you eat affects you feel,” said Cross. “And how you feel affects how productive you are. I think it all starts with food.”
Enjoy Pure Food and Drink is open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
— Jonathan Bender writes about food trends and is the founder of The Recommended Daily. Follow him on Twitter @jonathanbender.