By Jason DeRusha

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you want evidence that healthier eating is more than a trend, look no further than the North Loop of Minneapolis, and the latest Crisp & Green.

“Literally everything we have is scratch made in the kitchen the same day,” said Steele Smiley, the founder of Crisp & Green.

Steele co-founded Crisp & Green in 2016 after selling his fitness brand Steele Fitness. He turned his focus toward other forms of wellness.

“The best way to do it and the most obvious way to do it was food. Except I knew nothing about it,” Smiley said.

He assembled a team, and had success with the initial Crisp & Green location in downtown Wayzata.

“I was going to the one in Wayzata probably four times a week,” said Kris Humphries, the Lake Minnetonka-area resident, former NBA star, restaurant franchise owner and longtime friend of Smiley.

“We were at the gym, we’d work out and stuff. He was a swimmer, I was a swimmer. He’s trained my sister in the past,” Humphries said.

When Crisp & Green looked for a franchise-owner to expand and grow the concept, Smiley and Humphries teamed up. During his NBA career, Kris and his dad put money into hamburger concept, Five Guys. Today, they own 10 of them.

“We first got into food in 2008, during the whole economic crash, global meltdown. I’m playing in the NBA, what do I do with my money now?” he said. Real estate and stocks didn’t seem like a smart option, so the Humphries went into restaurants.

“Five Guys is a very different concept, obviously. But restaurants are restaurants, and great staff and great training is the same,” he said.

Especially considering Humphries’ interest in healthy eating after he retired from 13 seasons in the NBA.

“I didn’t want to be a guy who was done playing and people are like, ‘Is that Kris Humphries? Kinda looks like him, but I don’t know,’” he said.

Crisp & Green’s marketing director Lily Smith helped create the concept and has been with the company since the beginning.

“Eating healthy on-the-go around here was not available, and this is such a healthy area,” she said.

A culinary team complete with chefs creates all of the specialty salads. Some are entirely plant-based using tofu or falafel, others have free-range chicken cooked inside the restaurant, or shrimp poached in citrus.

“Each bowl starts with a selection of five different greens, or grains like quinoa, brown rice, wild rice,” she said.

The corporate Crisp & Green now owns three restaurants; Humphries is the first franchise-owner with stores in Maple Grove, St. Paul and Dinkeytown.

“It’s something that tastes good, you like, is healthy – how many spots do you know like that?” Humphries said.

They’re trying to create a culture that’s beyond just the healthy salads. They’re hosting yoga and sculpt classes free for customers. Employees meditate. It’s delicious food, designed as part of a total lifestyle.

“I always say I’m not trying for world domination,” said Smiley. But, “I could see this anywhere. I could see it everywhere. I you don’t service your hometown well, that’s not going to happen.”

Jason DeRusha

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