Protein shakes aren't all you can get post-workout at the new $43 million, four-story Life Time Edina at Southdale, a deluxe "resort" (what was once known as a gym) that opened last week on the site of the mall's former J.C. Penney. Try the sashimi.
The new Life Time has three restaurants, and two of them are open to the public, even those who aren't "Diamond Premier" members.
Rare Sushi & Lounge is a full-service lunch, dinner and happy hour spot, with a full bar and a menu of sushi rolls, bowls and burritos. LifeCafe, the brand's signature in-house spot for quick-serve meals, grab-and-go snacks, coffee and shakes, has an expanded menu that incorporates all the hottest buzzwords in modern nutrition: grain bowls, avocado toast, zoodles, açai.
A rooftop bistro will open in the spring and summer for outdoor pool season, serving members only. But the two ground-floor eateries are open to anyone on an occasional basis, provided they register at the front desk. (The rest of the club remains off-limits.)
Rare Sushi isn't Life Time's first foray into full-service. There's one at Life Time's flagship club in Eden Prairie, as well as another bistro there that's open to the public.
Ryan Dodge, executive chef for Life Time's 140 cafes nationally, says the club's food offerings need to appeal to every kind of eater. "Our members come in with goals from staying fit, to bulking up, to working on their cardio and losing weight. And then within that overall perspective of the healthy way of life, we know nutrition plays an extremely big role," Dodge said. "We have a very macronutrient-balanced profile to support people's calorie consumption."
Other kinds of diets are accommodated, too. For example, Rare will offer vegan sushi (thinly sliced tomatoes stand in for tuna). Tipplers at the rooftop "Beach Club" and at Rare Sushi's bar can get healthier versions of specialty cocktails: a rum and Coke here would be a rum and Stevia soda.
For grab-and-go options, salads, composed meals and more sushi is coming out of a new commissary in Eden Prairie, which will supply all the LifeCafes in the area.
Meals are designed according to an 1,800-2,000 calorie/day diet, which might be on the lower end of what typical mall-based restaurants are offering. "Love Cheesecake Factory, love all those places, but you can blow that in the course of one meal," Dodge said.
Yes, Southdale does have a Cheesecake Factory. So will shoppers make their way to Life Time instead?
Dodge admits the imposing front desk in the club's lobby could be a barrier.
"The perception is that it's members-only and one of the things that drives that perception is that front desk, so it doesn't always feel open and inclusive," Dodge said. "But if you wanted to eat at the restaurant or cafe, it's an absolute."
To an extent, anyway.
A Life Time spokeswoman said nonmembers shouldn't plan to come every day for an avo toast and a c appuccino. Access is a member benefit, after all. And that membership starts at $159 a month.
250 Southdale Center, Edina, 952-257-7100, lifetime.life/life-time-locations/mn-edina-southdale.html
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