UNIVERSITY PARK -- Respect for personal health feeds the Lanza brothers' desire to provide a fast and fresh dining option in University Park.
"It's a passion for me, my brother and my dad," said Steven Lanza, one-half of the Lanza brothers team who owns Fresh Kitchen. The restaurant, part of the Tampa-based Ciccio Restaurant Group, is a new concept to the Sarasota area.
"We love healthy food," Lanza said. "It used to be that to get a healthy meal you had to spend a lot of money or time."
Meals are served in a bowl and are made in an assembly line. There are also cold presses juices available.
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Customers can see the entire bowl-assembly process happen in front of them and have a view into the restaurant's kitchen, as well. The Lanzas focus on quality ingredients and subtracting mystery from the process.
"You see the whole process here," Lanza said. "It's fresh food as fast as you can point."
The bowls come with a complex carbohydrate base, choice of vegetable, a healthy protein and one of the restaurant's handcrafted sauces. Small, regular, family and kid-size bowls are available for dine in or take out.
The bowls cater to meal replacement, Steven Lanza said, a necessary quality for fast-paced families on the go.
Customers also can watch the cold-pressed juice machine in action behind a window as they enter the bowl line. Cold-pressed juice has advantages over other juicing methods, said managing partner Ryan Leto. Leto will oversee the restaurant's operations after Steven and Matt Lanza take off to open the third Fresh Kitchen in St. Petersburg.
"Cold-pressed juice preserves the minerals and antioxidants best," Leto said. "It's more for nutritional value than taste, but it tastes good, too." Fresh Kitchen also makes its own lemonades, teas, almond milk and almond milk-coffee hybrid drinks.
But it was the relaxed atmosphere of the Tampa area that appealed to Matt and Steven Lanza's father, James Lanza, who started Ciccio Restaurant Group in New York City more than 25 years ago.
"He opened a restaurant in Tampa and fell in love with it," Steven Lanza said. "It's not as fast-paced and a nice change from New York."
The Ciccio Restaurant Group, named after James Lanza's dad, operates eight restaurants in the Tampa area. The first Fresh Kitchen opened in Tampa about a year ago.
The Lanzas say their timing for entering the Sarasota-Manatee market was right.
"Sarasota is a new market for us," Lanza said. "The demographic works out well for us and it's a nice, growing area."
Fresh Kitchen will open to the public for the first time on Black Friday. The managerial team and 60-person crew spent this week practicing trial runs with friends and families to perfect their processes before post-shopping crowds arrive. The 3,100 square-foot restaurant passed its required health inspection on Nov. 19 according to state records.
Fresh Kitchen is their first venture in Sarasota and within weeks, Fresh Kitchen's next door neighbor Daily Eats will open as well. Daily Eats is also part of the Ciccio Restaurant Group and Steven Lanza said it, too, is a concept new to the area.
"It's our version of a diner," he said.
Janelle O'Dea, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095 or follow her on Twitter@jayohday.