January always starts out with a bang, but when the smoke clears, most of us are faced with the cold reality that it's time to tighten our self-discipline before it's impossible to tighten our belts.
Green and Grilled opened in the summer of 2011, offering options built for this time of year. It's the kind of place where one could enjoy eating practically every day and never feel any guilt.
When Juan Suarez's years working in other people's restaurants, learning and saving money finally put him in position to open his own place, he wasn't exactly sure what kind of restaurant to open.
The answer was right under his nose.
“We were having this beautiful dinner at home, delicious flavors and beautiful colors, and I finally said to my wife, ‘This is the kind of food we need to be serving.' ”
Not long after that, the couple leased space in Rockwell Plaza, and Green and Grilled, 8547 N Rockwell Ave., was born.
Green and Grilled is a fast-casual concept, specializing in heart-smart dishes that promote balance without scrimping on flavor.
Suarez and his wife, Adriana, who both hail from Colombia, designed the clean, bright interior founded on white paint with green highlights and clever touches such as ceiling cutouts and an elevated banquet along the south wall.
If the layout seems familiar, it should. Suarez spent close to a decade opening Chipotle restaurants, starting in Denver, then Utah and finally Oklahoma.
“Food, feel and flow” is what Suarez said he took from his time at Chipotle.
Suarez said while food is the most important thing for a restaurant, comfort is a major part of the dining experience. A clean, attractive interior that's easy to navigate is almost as essential.
But Suarez said he wanted to take it one more step with his concept and offer food that promotes a sustainable lifestyle.
“We want to offer people meals that are balanced,” he said. “My wife is studying for her master's in nutrition, so we pay a lot of attention to every ingredient that goes into the food.”
That means targeting natural organic ingredients and learning to take extra precautions to make sure the ingredients have no potentially harmful additives.