By Evan Milberg
Doctors often tell their patients they need to eat better. Nova Medical & Urgent Care Center founder and CEO Dr. Grace Keenan has taken it a step further: She created her own restaurant, Garden of Eatin’ Grab and Go Café, to make sure Nova Medical’s “patients and employees … have access to healthy, delicious food at a low cost.” The cafe opened two weeks ago.
“As an employer, I am tired of hosting off-site meetings and asking for healthy options and being presented with M&M filled trail mix, muffins and granola bars covered in icing and sandwiches smothered in sauces,” Keenan says. She cultivated a passion for home-cooked, nutritious food at a young age while being raised on a potato farm in rural Canada.
“I grew up … in a family [where] all eight of us sat and ate around the dinner table three times a day,” Keenan says. “My mother had a garden and was very health conscious. I watched her grow and prepare foods daily.”
Keenan has hired Operations & Catering Manager Paul Zangos and Executive Chef Kiet Ly to run the day-to-day operations. Ly has worked in the food industry for 18 years for places such as Whole Foods Market, the Westfields Marriott and the Hilton Garden Inn in Dulles. At one point in his life, Ly reached a weight of 500 pounds. When employed at Whole Foods, he entered and won a store-wide weight loss competition with a cash prize. After winning the competition, he decided he wanted to continue with his changed lifestyle and has lost a total of 250 pounds in three years.
Garden of Eatin’s menu features a variety of bowls, salads, sandwiches, wraps and other proteins like tarragon turkey. Ly takes pride not only in the menu’s health value, but its international diversity. “[The menu] reflects the type of food I like to eat and cook,” says Ly. “We have a chicken tagine bowl, which is Moroccan, and then you have adobo black bean bowl, which is Mexican, and then miso salmon, which is Asian-inspired.”
Keenan says in addition to the cafe, she wants Garden of Eatin’ to be a go-to for catering, saying her goal is to be the “ultimate provider” of healthy food offerings for employers and Northern Virginians. / Gardin of Eatin’ Grab and Go Café, 21785 Filigree Court, Suite 100, Ashburn; 703-554-1394