Spike Mendelsohn, the celebrity chef who first claimed a culinary foothold in D.C. with toasted marshmallow milkshakes and Obama-approved burgers at Good Stuff Eatery, tells Eater that he’s aiming to have his new health-focused restaurant inside the St. James sports complex open sometime after Thanksgiving.
Although the massive recreation center in Springfield, Virginia, opened September 15, Mendelsohn has scant details to offer about Vim and Victor, which he says will adhere to the buzzwords, “hearty and healthy.” Washington Business Journal has reported that Vim and Victor was slated to start operations four to six weeks after the St. James opened. By that projection, Vim and Victor is running about a month behind schedule.
The project is in the hiring phase, Mendelsohn says. Jobs site Indeed lists openings for everything from hostesses and bartenders to sous chef.
For now, Mendelsohn says he’s experimenting with panzanella salad recipes and is certain that Vim and Victor will serve several types of wraps. He name-dropped Beyond Meat as a pea protein he’s excited to integrate into the menu.
Because the St. James welcomes such a diverse range of visitors, Mendelsohn says there’s no target demographic for the concept. There will be options built on animal protein, vegan-friendly plates, and gluten-free dishes. “I’m not putting anything in front of anyone that’s boring or that is non-relatable,” Mendelsohn insists.
A food policy advocate who is partnered with Unilever’s Make Meals that Do More campaign, Mendelsohn says he plan to use Unilever products such as non-GMO verified Sir Kensington’s mayonnaise, Hellmann’s vegan dressing, and Pure Leaf tea (in lieu of soda).
Mendelsohn has a lot on his plate. In addition to running Vim and Victor, which he says will offer full-service and grab-and-go option, he’s partnered in all the food and beverage options at the St. James. That means crafting “epic” packed lunches for kids at day camps as well as figuring out what to serve at corporate happy hours and kiosks for spectators — the comprehensive complex contains turf fields, an ice rink and a rock climbing wall.
Meanwhile, Good Stuff Eatery, which has four listed locations around town and one in Chicago, recently opened an outpost in Cairo, Egypt. Mendelsohn said his team is also planning to open its first ice cream store, Good Stuff Creamery, in his hometown of Clearwater, Florida.
For him, balancing indulgences like burgers or the food at his We, the Pizza shops with healthier options is both a lifestyle choice and a sound business practice. It’s why he wanted to work a corporate behemoth like Unilever in the first place.
“All these organizations know that times are changing, demands are different, and you have to keep up,” Mendelsohn says. “Not only am I guy that used to own burger places, and now I’m launching a healthier concept, that’s just kind of like the evolution of the business.”