Diners in Redmond now have a new, healthy option when considering where to eat.
Graces 5 at 8110 164th Ave. N.E. in downtown Redmond opened last month and offers a menu of gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and low-sugar items for vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters alike.
Founder Timothy Sharpe said he wants his restaurant to be a safe place to eat for people with all types of dietary needs.
“We offer this place where people can eat together,” the Redmond resident said.
Sharpe explained that when dining out, people will pick a restaurant where everyone in the party can eat. If one individual has special dining needs — whether for health, ethical or other reasons — the group will go somewhere that person can eat. He said this is fine once or twice, but after a while, it gets old.
Graces 5, with a tag line of “Revolutionizing healthy eating,” offers vegetarian, vegan, meat and seafood dishes to please everyone’s palate.
In addition to being educated on food allergies and other dietary health issues, Sharpe said Graces 5 staff are trained to know about various diets such as the South Beach and Paleo diets, so they are able to have a real conversation with diners and their needs. He said customers can also fill out a profile card with their dietary specifications. This is put into the restaurant’s system, so when the customers return, their information is already on file.
The concept for Graces 5 came to Sharpe after he beat testicular cancer twice and his daughter beat leukemia at the age of 3.
“We as a family, in order to stay healthy, decided to change our diet,” he said.
They began with going organic and then gluten free, dairy free and soy free. Sharpe soon discovered others within the community whose diets were similar to his family’s and that usually ate at home because there weren’t any places that catered to their needs.
Sharpe had experienced this isolation when he was diagnosed with cancer the second time. He had chosen the Gerson Therapy, an alternative home-based treatment to chemotherapy and radiation that consists of a juicing protocol and raw and cooked solid foods. During this time, he said it was easy to become a hermit because there weren’t very many dining options in the community that catered to his dietary needs.
Sharpe opened Graces 5 because he wanted to provide an option for diners that was “not a place where you cheat on your diet.”
In the few weeks that the restaurant has been open, Sharpe has been spoken with customers and said he particularly enjoys hearing how happy they are to have a place to eat where they don’t have to worry about their health and can speak with the staff openly about their needs.
Graces 5 chef Ricky Simone has watched the healthy food movement grow for years and said he is glad to be a part of it.
“It’s very exciting,” he said.
Simone’s background is in Italian cuisine and said it’s been fun to realize that although he’s using different products, he’s using many of the same preparation techniques.
“You can’t tell the difference,” he said.
Some of the alternative ingredients Simone uses include gluten-free breadcrumbs, gluten-free pasta and organic produce and margarine. He said his favorite part of the job is being able to cook the same things he’s always cooked, but do it in a healthier way.
However, Simone said using alternative ingredients comes at a high price — literally. One of the biggest challenges he faces is finding gluten-free breads and pastas that are cost efficient but still fit the dietary needs of their diners.
In addition to healthier ingredients, Graces 5 also focuses on using as many local and seasonal ingredients as possible to support individuals and businesses in his community. They have even started an urban “Garden of Eatin'” around the restaurant parking lot, featuring vegetables and herbs to be used in the seasonal menu. Sharpe said this is another way to emphasize the idea of eating local.
And living about five minutes away from the restaurant, Sharpe said he has also become a patron of the businesses surrounding Graces 5.
“This is my town,” he said.