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LYFE Kitchen closes in Palo Alto

Uploaded: Aug 16, 2018
LYFE Kitchen's first-ever location, opened at 167 Hamilton Ave. in Palo Alto in 2011, closed its health-conscious doors on Tuesday, Aug. 14.

"We wish to thank everyone for their support of our Palo Alto location over the years. It was an honor to serve you," a short statement on the company's website states. "We especially want to thank our dedicated team members for their exceptional service and many contributions to our company."

LYFE Kitchen's prototype location in Palo Alto. Palo Alto Weekly file photo.

In an email Thursday, Mike Johnson, director of marketing for Carlisle Corporation, which operates LYFE Kitchen, said "there is not a lot to share about the closing. The closing was a result of a business decision we made."

Two former McDonald's executives and a venture capitalist founded the restaurant in 2011 with ambitious plans to open more than 200 locations across the country. The menu was developed by celebrity chef Art Smith and Tal Ronnen, a well-known vegan chef and cookbook author. All dishes clock in at under 600 calories with less than 1,000 milligrams of sodium. LYFE (an acronym for Love Your Food Every Day) disavowed trans fats, butter, white sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and other additives in favor of locally sourced, sustainable ingredients.

Roasted Brussels sprouts, grilled cheese, sweet corn chowder and cookies at the now-shuttered LYFE Kitchen. Palo Alto Weekly file photo.

The LYFE team and their hope to revolutionize fast food quickly drew enthusiastic press attention. In 2012, Wired magazine wrote that LYFE "might just shift the calculus of American cuisine." Two years later, Thrillist named LYFE on of "12 Small Chains That Might Someday Dominate The World."

Healthy fast-casual restaurant concepts are now a dime a dozen in the Bay Area. In Palo Alto, LYFE faced increasing competition from newcomers including Sweetgreen, Lemonade, Tender Greens and True Food Kitchen (which is a full-service restaurant but has similar offerings to LYFE).

LYFE has been steadily shuttering restaurants across the country in recent years. Only four locations remain in Chicago and Memphis, according to the company’s website.


 +   12 people like this
Posted by Albert, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Aug 16, 2018 at 1:13 pm

My wife and I really enjoyed Lyfe kitchen. It was a healthy, clean, and affordable dining option in Downtown Palo Alto. Until one day, we visited for lunch and everything changed. The floors were sticky from spilled soda, the tables weren't cleared and there were crumbs everywhere. The menu had slightly changed. They no longer had the same dishes that kept us going back. Indeed, even the quality of the food had declined almost overnight. We just thought back to Kitchen Nightmares and how the state of the restaurant is a mirror of the owner. [A portion of this post has been removed.] It's such a shame.

 +   7 people like this
Posted by Veggie, a resident of Downtown North,
on Aug 16, 2018 at 2:24 pm

LYFE was a family favorite when it opened. Over the last few years, the quality declined and many of their best dishes disappeared from the menu, including the chia water, a staple forever. When we visited for lunch a few months ago, I vowed not to return, but with our kitchen undergoing construction, we went back to LYFE last week. Sad to see -- not only was the creativity and flavor missing, but the artistry behind the dishes was gone.

LYFE used to be crowded whenever you went. There were only another half dozen people there last week.

Why they chose to run this popular restaurant into the ground we can only guess. It's almost, but not quite, as sad as the closing of the Good Earth -- which I still miss.

 +   3 people like this
Posted by Gorn, a resident of Ventura,
on Aug 18, 2018 at 1:06 pm

We enjoyed going to LYFE Kitchen. The menu changed and some of our favorites dishes were gone. The last time we went we noticed that the tables and floors were not clean and the food was not up to the standard the LYFE had when it first opened.

 +   2 people like this
Posted by Gorn, a resident of Ventura,
on Aug 18, 2018 at 1:06 pm

We enjoyed going to LYFE Kitchen. The menu changed and some of our favorites dishes were gone. The last time we went we noticed that the tables and floors were not clean and the food was not up to the standard the LYFE had when it first opened.

 +   2 people like this
Posted by Bill B, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Aug 27, 2018 at 2:10 pm

If you want to trace back the decline look to the purchase by the Carlisle Group. The founders were all about money, the Carlisle Group all about profit.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Too bad, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Sep 2, 2018 at 12:31 am

I was going to post a comment but Albert and Veggie pretty much summed it up. We LOVED this place, and the problems cropped up overnight. After two bas meals and no response to sending a really concerned letter to corporate, we just stopped going. It was worth trekking to University over and then something happened that destroyed the food quality and whole experience.

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