Whitestone residents will soon have healthy food options that go beyond prepackaged salads and store-bought yogurt.
In two to three weeks, Health Kitchen, located at 10-17 154th St., will open to the public, according to co-owner Jordan Schneider, who is opening the business with Erika Lercara and her husband Anthony. Lercara started out as Schneider’s fitness client but transitioned to his business partner after becoming interested in health and fitness. She and her husband are the co-owners of Silo Fitness in Whitestone.
Schneider said that the decision to open Health Kitchen stemmed from being surrounded by “lackluster” healthy food options in the area. The owner said he was “tired of store-bought” food and wanted better options for the neighborhood.
The establishment has been in the works for over two years, but setbacks in construction delayed the project’s timeline. When he first acquired the building, Schneider said that the exterior was “dilapidated” but has since been made brand new in time for the grand opening.
Health and fitness is something that Schneider has always been invested in, having completed a degree in nutrition and exercise physiology at Queens College before opening up Sage Fitness Studios in 2009. The business owner said that opening up his eatery in Whitestone made sense, as the area is small but densely packed with health-related businesses.
“You can find 10 to 12 businesses in a two- to three-mile radius,” said Schneider, whose business is across the street from a Life Health & Fitness gym and a Body & Mind Day Spa.
Though the area is saturated in all things health and fitness related, what sets Health Kitchen apart from other health food businesses in the area is their focus on creating fresh menu items exclusive to their establishment.
Schneider shared that creating the menu at Health Kitchen has been a collaborative, ongoing effort between Anthony, who conceptualized the menu and Schneider, who approved the menu items to fit Health Kitchen’s nutritional values. They have also been working with executive chef Brian Kirpan, who earned his degree at the Culinary Institute of America. Kirpan is working exclusively with Health Kitchen’s prepped food line, which will include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks available for pickup or preorder.
“The menu is unique and built specifically for us,” said Schneider. He added that their emphasis on perfecting the menu is another factor that delayed Health Kitchen’s opening.
Items include fresh salads, smoothies, acai, pitaya and chia bowls, homemade Greek yogurt from an Astoria company and poke bowls with fish provided by J. Kings Food Service. Prices range from about $6 for items like smoothies to $12 for the pricier items like the customizable poke bowls.
Schneider said that they even customized their own coffee blend, which took a few months to perfect. His ultimate goal is to streamline the process for everything they serve in stores so that they stay competitive with other businesses in the area. He added that Health Kitchen will be providing delivery through services like Uber Eats and DoorDash, but will work toward in-house deliveries once they are established.