Healthy & Fast
Sep 24, 2015 08:53PM
Mike Gracey is a military veteran who served four tours in Iraq as an Army medic during a military career that lasted 12 years. He’s also been a nutritionist, personal trainer, body builder, power lifter - and it shows - and account rep for a sports nutrition company. Now he’s adding restaurateur to his list of accomplishments. His creation, Fit Fuel Grill, is centered around providing fresh, healthy and organic food to people who understand and savor its benefits. He just opened his newest store in South Arlington this past July right next door to two gyms and business has been hopping.
Following his years in the military, Gracey honed in on his career as a nutritionist in El Paso. “I was always telling my clients what they should be eating but they didn’t always follow my advice,” says the 35-year-old. Eventually, he says, many of them saw the food he was preparing for himself and asked if he could prepare meals for them. One thing led to another and before he knew it he was preparing meals for dozens of people out of a small kitchen at his gym. So he opened the doors of a takeout-only business called Fit Fuel Grill. “The idea was to create a place where busy people could pick up healthy food and take it with them,” he says. The business did well.
In 2014, Gracey’s career with Cellucore, the sports nutrition company, expanded as he became a rep for six states in the region. His burgeoning career first took him to Houston and then brought him to the DFW area. That’s when he met partner John Kirby and the two teamed up to open the second location of Fit Fuel Grill. But this time, it’s a sit down restaurant as well as an order-to-go business. Gracey and Kirby both live within 5 minutes of the restaurant and are always available and make sure to spend time onsite.
With very little marketing or fanfare, the new restaurant has already garnered the attention of fitness folks at the next-door Fitness Connection and the LA Fitness location right across the street. “People have quickly discovered us,” says Kirby. “We’ve been averaging around 150 walk-ins every day and more than 1,000 prepared and delivered orders every week.” They estimate business is pretty evenly split right now between sit down customers and those who order to go. In addition to the two neighboring gyms, Kirby says they are delivering meals to a dozen other area gyms and nutrition centers.
Step in the door of Fit Fuel Grill and you’ll note right away that fresh and healthy is the order of the day here. Words are painted on the walls in large letters that read: “Grass Fed,” “Organic,” “Free Range” and “Farm Fresh.” And they mean what they say.
You’ll find all kinds of smoothies and breakfast is served all day – think protein shakes, protein waffles and pancakes and breakfast burritos made with egg whites, chicken and spinach. For lunch and dinner there’s ground turkey, grass-fed beef and black bean burgers. And, of course, you’ll find free range chicken that’s so fresh, Gracey jokes, “This was still alive at 4:00 o’clock this morning.”
Kirby says that they are really beginning to expand their vegetarian and vegan offerings too. “We recognize there’s a demand for that and we have responded with things such as tofu and black beans as well as seasonal fresh vegetables.” Which brings up an interesting part of the Fit Fuel Grill approach. All the food here is locally sourced from Texas farmers. Nothing is frozen, nothing is processed, it’s all straight from the farm.
For those interested in eating healthy every day, Fit Fuel Grill offers its Men’s Plan - $125 a week includes 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 5 dinners plus 2 healthy snacks a day. A similar plan is $115 for women. Otherwise, you can come in, order off the menu and sit down to enjoy.
On our visit I opted to go with one of Gracey’s favorites, the Cajun Blackened Chicken. The tender chunks of chicken had just enough tanginess to make you reach for water but weren’t so spicy the average Texan couldn’t handle it. The chicken was served alongside some of their mashed sweet potatoes (which are cooked with a special process that boils the sugar right out) and some fresh steamed broccoli. It was a perfectly light healthy meal on a hot summer day.
“A big part of eating healthy and having a healthy lifestyle is eating the proper portions, and avoiding processed foods and the hormones that are often present in those foods,” says Gracey.
Fit Fuel Grill is located at 1201 Arbrook Blvd., Ste. 125 and is open Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. To see the menu and find out about ordering food to go, visit www.fitfuelgrill.com, look for them on Facebook or call 817-472-4330.
Written by Kerry Pipes
The 454th Engineer Company, 111th Engineer Battalion, 176th Engineer Brigade, Texas Army National Guard also recently completed a nine-month route-clearance mission to Afghanistan. Read More »