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A Dream Into a Reality: Kye’s on Montana

Photograph by Daniel Montoya

Kye's on Montana is a bright and sunny restaurant located in Santa Monica, California. What sets this dining spot apart from the rest? Their specialty is serving healthy and wholesome KyeRitos—a handheld meal wrapped in lettuce greens or traditional nori (Japanese for seaweed)—created by momtrepreneur Jeanne Cheng. A firm believer that the root of health and happiness lies in food, she began developing the concept of KyeRitos as a way to teach her son Kye about "nurturing a healthy relationship with food and the joy and pleasures food brings to life."

Cheng hopes to eventually spread the concept of Kye's into a global avenue for pure and wholesome food well beyond just Santa Monica.

All wraps are gluten-free with locally sourced ingredients and as many superfoods as possible,

Can you tell us more about your inspiration behind Kye's and your passion for food?

I love to cook and I've always believed in the importance of nutrition and food as medicine, but that it also has to satisfy the heart. Feeding my son was the inspiration behind Kye's. He forced me to focus my attention on providing him with all the nutrition a growing body needs. He was a picky eater with several food sensitivities, so I had to be creative and tweak recipes, trying to add nutrition and remove processed ingredients. I've always eaten clean and organic. I am very sensitive to food myself and I'm passionate about changing the way we grow our food in this country.

What was the turning point for you when you realized you wanted to open a restaurant?

I had been thinking about it and tried to convince various friends of mine in the restaurant business to do it with me. On October 20, 2012, I was at a Mother Divine retreat in N.C. and during the intense rounds of meditation, it hit me that I had to do it by myself and made a pledge to go for it. I came home and got hooked up with the Cornell School of Restaurant and Hotel Management Library and started educating myself. There has all been a lot of learning!

Can you briefly describe the process from your idea of Kye's to actualization?

In my mind, Kye's was everywhere and everyone was eating KyeRitos, not just in the U.S., but globally. I could feel it in every cell in my body, so felt like I had to do it. It was a tremendous amount of work and commitment. Luckily, I didn't know it would be so difficult to actualize, otherwise I may not have done it. I now feel like I have a master's degree in opening and managing a restaurant.

How involved is your son with the restaurant?

He loves to help out and come up with ideas and is very proud of it. He thinks it's the coolest thing to be able to eat whatever he wants, though he's a little sick of KyeRitos at this point.

What are some tips to help others achieve KyeChithe practice of nourishing one's bodies and experiencing pure enjoyment at the same time?

Cook with your kids. I let Kye choose a food to make, whatever he wants, then we Google a recipe for it and brainstorm different ways to make it "healthier" without sacrificing flavor. Then we go to the store and shop the ingredients and cook it together.

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