The Rogers Revue

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Energy Kitchen

7 min read

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Let’s face it, when it comes to eating healthy, fast food seems to dominate every corner of America. What if you have a healthier option to the burgers, fries and shakes we consume? A decade ago, a man named Anthony Leone challenged the norm by creating Energy Kitchen, a fast food place where everything, yes EVERYTHING, on the menu is under 500 calories. Ten years and fourteen restaurants, this new concept is winning the hearts and stomachs of America who want a Energy Kitchen in their town. We had the honor of seeing the first Energy Kitchen open in Downtown DC and believe me, he food is delicious. From their Peanut Better smoothies to the Energy Burger, EK is place that make you forget about those favorite fast food places in an instant.

In our special edition of INTERVUE, I talked to the Founder and Co-Partner of Energy Kitchen, Anthony Leone, to find out how did this restaurant came to be and about the food.

Dean: Tell us a little about yourself

AL: I’m 42 years old, born and raised in Queens, NY. I’m very passionate about food, eating healthy and athletics my whole life. I have been in the restaurant business my whole life. I attended Florida International University in South Miami Beach, Florida. I really got my education from them. I got into the field by becoming a district manager for a couple of different places before I started this.

DR: Now walk us through the road of Energy Kitchen? How the idea did come to be?

AL: I was working for the different concepts like I was speaking about being district manager overseeing multiple units. I am the type of eater, being athletic and always looking to do well with my body. I would go into a restaurant and say “No mayo, no bacon, no bread” that kind of thing. I wanted to live life where I don’t want to say could’ve, should’ve, would’ve. SO I rather take than a risk than miss out on an opportunity. I wanted to develop a place where everything on the menu was good for you. I left the corporate world and started this in 2003 and haven’t looked back since.

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DR: How many Energy Kitchens are out there so far?

AL: Right now, we are at 14 restaurants. A lot of them are in NYC and NJ. We have a couple of them in colleges and South Florida.

DR: Which colleges specifically?

AL: Fordham University, St. John’s University and soon will be at Hofstra.

DR: How did you get the president of VitaminWater involved with EK?

AL:  Michael is the co-founder of this concept as well. Mike joined me about five years ago in our mission. He invests and look for concepts that are trend starters. Twelve years if you would have heard of vitamins in water, you would have scratched your head a little bit. Mike was a customer before he was an investor. When Mike sold VitaminWater to Coca-Cola, he was looking for the next big thing, the next trendsetter.

DR: What made you bring EK to the Nation’s Capital?

AL: The Nation’s Capital is a perfect fit for us! It’s got a lot of synergies like NYC. It’s a big influential market. People are fast-paced and want to eat healthy but there are very few options out there.

DR: I heard that you are expanding into a second location in DC, Is this true?

AL: Without a doubt, absolutely!

DR: What other plans do you have for EK beyond the DC locations?

AL: We plan to build on the Northeast corridor and expand from there nationally and internationally. We’re going to look into opening more EK’s in colleges because college kids these days are begging for concepts that are healthier. Every focus group out there is asking their presidents to bring healthier options in and that is where we come in. That is our sweet spot. We make everything right now. We’re fully transparent. We list all our calories. We only have one serving size. Some concepts out there have a serving size of two. If you see a meal in front of you that might have 600 calories, in reality its 1200. We really wanted to take the thinking out of health. We don’t cook anything with oil or butter. We don’t have any full calorie soda, not low calorie soda. You really can’t make any wrong choice at EK. You just pick what you want whether it be better burgers, fit fries or smart shakes and you got a delicious meal.

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DR: What would you personally recommend for someone who never been to Energy Kitchen?

AL: I would definitely recommend one of our better burgers and our fit fries which you can have either in sea salt or sweet potato fries or our smart shakes. We have a lot of great ones, berries & cream is my favorite. The Peanut Butter smoothie is a great one. I kinda describe it as a liquid snickers bar.

DR: Looking back on now 10 years of Energy Kitchen, what has been your proudest accomplishment thus far?

AL: Great question. Every time we open a store, its such a proud accomplishment. When I talk to the customers and how much they embrace the brand. When I get social media and the number one question I get in social media or to the website is “When I came to NY and came to the location, when are we going to get our Energy Kitchen?” and that makes me feel so good. I could not have done this without my team. They really help propel the brand and made it what it is today and what will be in the future.

Next, I had the chance to talk to Todd Stallings, the Director of Operations of Energy Kitchen

DR: Please tell us more about Energy Kitchen:

TS: Energy Kitchen has really come into focus right now, just for the trends of the consumer. They are looking for healthier options. They are looking towards that burger, French fry, fast food taste and feel that they are not able to find it in a healthy package. What we done here is brought that that burger, French fries, salads and wraps brought it altogether. Everything’s under 500 calories. So you come in here and have that comfort food. Be happy with yourself eating it and be happy that ate it and enjoy it.

DR: Why is every item on the menu under 500 calories?

TS: That’s the threshold we set. A lot of places out here will be at 550 or 600 but we gone to a point where we engineering the menu so it’s under 500 calories and we’re going to stick that on everything we do to the point where even if we’re just going to bring on a new menu item. It’s not like “Oh, let’s think about this and just put it out” Everything we do is off to the labs tested, verified and then we can put it on our menu because that is going to be the focus of the nutritional side. Of course, you will have the other components like proteins, sugar and salt. Right now, the 500 calories seems to be the real trigger for the consumer right now.

DR. What would recommend for anyone who comes to Energy Kitchen for the first time?

TRR would like to thank Anthony Leone and Todd Stallings for granting us the interview! If you like an healthier option to the food you eat everyday, I invite to check out Energy Kitchen at 1901 L St NW  Washington, DC 20036

And tell ’em Dean sent you!

TRR Intervue by Dean Rogers. Photography by Dorian Fernandez

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