Continue to Site

    Money Where Your Mouth Is

  • Quick-serve brands talk a lot about health and nutrition these days. But these seven executives are actually practicing what they preach.

    shake shack
    Randy Garutti, Shake Shack CEO

    Neville Craw / Arby’s

    Corporate executive chef and senior director of product development and innovation

    How Arby’s stays healthy: Almost half of the company’s core menu items have more than 20 grams of protein—“Our whole brand movement is toward being protein-focused,” Craw says—but that’s not the only nutritional benefit Arby’s can boast. More than a third of its sandwiches contain fewer than 500 calories.

    How Craw stays healthy: Before this year, Craw hadn’t been on a bicycle since high school. But he put the old cliché about riding a bike to the test when No Kid Hungry asked him to sign up for Chefs Cycle, a three-day, 300-mile charity event that raised funds to help feed hungry children.

    “Besides the amazing cause, which was numero uno for why I did [Chefs Cycle], part of it was to sink my teeth into a different activity,” he says. The chef, whose previous fitness regimen focused on walking, got a bike and started cycling three times a week about three and a half months before the race, working up to 30–70-mile rides. He ended up raising more than $14,000—and his cycling career isn’t over just because he’s crossed the finish line.

    “I’ve gotten really into it and excited about getting better and better,” he says. “Long story short is this was new to me, and now I’m hooked.”

    Bryn Davis / BRYN & DANE’s


    How BRYN & DANE’s stays healthy: When BRYN & DANE’s opened its first location three years ago, it was designed to reverse the lack of healthy quick-serve options Davis had during his personal weight-loss journey. It serves customers salads, wraps, and smoothies in three minutes or less, and has a drive thru for people who don’t want to leave their cars to eat a nutritious meal. Today, the company has three locations and is in the process of signing a lease on its fourth. Digital menus allow it to change its offerings in real time to cater to customers’ preferences.

    How Davis stays healthy: When he was in high school, Davis rowed on the crew team. “I was 160 pounds, could eat whatever I wanted, and was just in phenomenal shape,” he says. “When I went to college, I decided not to row. And instead of putting on the freshman 15, I ended up putting on the freshman 70.” A lack of knowledge on nutrition was part of the problem. “I really had no idea what the differences between protein and carbohydrates and fats really were,” he says.

    When a doctor told Davis that he was obese and should make some drastic changes in his life, he took the advice to heart. He started working out with his roommates immediately, did all of the research he could about how to eat healthy, and lost the excess pounds he’d put on in about six months.

    That was almost 10 years ago, but Davis still works out five times a week. “And our headquarters are on top of a BRYN & DANE’s,” he says, “so I’m able to eat a high-protein egg scramble in the morning. I’ll do a salad for lunch, a smoothie in the afternoon, and a salad or wrap for dinner.”

    Ric Scicchitano / Corner Bakery Café

    Executive vice president of food and supply chain

    How Corner Bakery CafÉ stays healthy: The chain prides itself on offering customers more than 100 combinations of sandwiches, salads, and soups that clock in at less than 600 calories, and as part of its efforts to add more options for health-conscious consumers, it recently introduced a new “Greens & Grains” line. “We’ve always strived to provide a balance of good-for-you menu items along with full nutritional disclosure,” Scicchitano says.

    How Scicchitano stays healthy: When Scicchitano graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1991, he was an avid cyclist, and he estimates that he weighed about 175 pounds. By 2000, his cycling habit had fallen by the wayside, and he was nearly 250 pounds. “That’s when I dusted off the old mountain bike and hopped on the trail,” he says.

    Scicchitano overhauled his eating habits, too. “I do the 80/20 rule,” he says, noting the strategy in which a person eats healthily 80 percent of the time. And because his job often requires bacon or pastry tasting, those indulgences he allows himself 20 percent of the time often fall during Scicchitano’s working hours. “That’s kind of how I manage it, because you have to eat all foods in our business,” he says.

    Today, Scicchitano typically works out four to six times a week—usually a combination of strength training and mountain biking, although he focused on road biking to prepare for Chefs Cycle last June. “I took the road bike down to work, and every day after work, I would get in 30, 50, 60 miles of road riding so I built up the endurance,” he says.

    Scicchitano raised over $18,500 for the cause, and next year, he plans to do the West Coast version of the ride.

    Michael Donahue / LYFE Kitchen

    Cofounder and chief brand officer

    How LYFE Kitchen stays healthy: Donahue constantly finds himself reminding employees not to talk about how healthy the chain’s menu is, even though nothing’s over 600 calories or 1,000 milligrams of sodium. “I don’t like to use ‘the H word,’” he says. “I really try to get our team to lead with, ‘We’re a great-tasting, warm, and inviting restaurant experience’—and talk about ‘the H word’ last.”

    LYFE Kitchen achieves this by using spices, herbs, and sauces that add flavor without a lot of fat, calories, or sodium. (Chef Art Smith, who used to be Oprah’s personal chef, famously developed the chain’s menu when it launched in 2010.) “We created LYFE with three of us in the blue-ocean theory of, you don’t benchmark against others; you dream and innovate and create, and you won’t look like all others,” he says.

    How Donahue stays healthy: Donahue’s personal health and wellness plan has four main components, all of which are espoused by Dr. Dean Ornish, a renowned healthcare researcher whom Donahue hired while he was working with McDonald’s to consult for the fast-food giant. The components are moderate diet changes that focus on plant-based foods, moderate exercise, group support, and stress management.

    Another key component of Donahue’s lifestyle is always ensuring he has the option to make healthy choices if he wants to. “The woman who buys my groceries will come in and say, ‘The blueberries are rotten,’” he says. “And I say, ‘Don’t ever stop buying them because we need the choice.’ I also always take my workout gear with me when I travel. And if I use it 30 percent of the time, I’m happy—but I make sure I give myself the choice.”