Tim Sharpe doesn’t consider himself a restaurateur, but more of a networker or connector of people. Perhaps that’s a strange designation for the founder of a restaurant, but Sharpe sees Graces 5 as more than just a place to get something to eat.
Part of the inspiration for Graces 5, which is set to open later this week, came from Sharpe’s own struggles with cancer. About a year after moving from Michigan to work at Microsoft, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. After a round of traditional treatment, the cancer went away and Sharpe returned to old habits.
“I played video games, ate Butterfingers, drank Mountain Dew — acted like a normal Redmond person,” he said.
But 10 years later, the cancer was back, and this time, Sharpe opted for revamping his diet and lifestyle, and did Gerson Therapy, which involves raw vegan eating and juicing. It worked—he’s now cancer-free. But with a radical diet change like that, there are problems.
“Once you’re doing that lifestyle, where are you going to go eat?” Sharpe said. “You’re basically a hermit now.”
Graces 5, which Sharpe founded with his wife Katherine, gives people with restricted diets an option, while not scaring off those skeptical of the descriptions “vegan” or “gluten-free,” Sharpe said.
“We’re not trying to make up new dishes,” he said. “Our goal is to make regular food awesome.”
The restaurant’s strategy involves removing the top allergens from the kitchen completely, so as to remove any worry of cross-contamination. You won’t find gluten, soy, dairy, peanuts or MSG in any of the dishes.
“We’re just starting with a clean slate,” Sharpe said.
That doesn’t mean that the menu is simply populated with rabbit food or cardboard-like healthy options. A preliminary dinner menu shows bourbon-glazed chicken wings and fire-roasted beef tenderloins sitting alongside raw vegan options like zucchini noodles and stuffed peppers. The menu was created by head chef Emmanuel Washington, a Florida-based chef known for creating healthy soul food dishes.
And yet, despite the carefully curated menu and the juice bar that will supplement it, Sharpe has a bigger vision for Graces 5 than just a restaurant.
“There’s this need for a place where people can have a community,” he said.
Sharpe wants Graces 5 to be a facilitator of healthy lifestyles, and that extends beyond diet. He calls the place an “open-source restaurant” where people who have specific health goals can come for assistance and encouragement. The restaurant will be partnering with Hopelink to do an allergy-friendly food drive, and it will be a pick-up point for food co-op Full Circle Farms.
For Sharpe, it’s all about promoting a different kind of mindset, one where you don’t expect a food hangover from eating a meal.
“Food is supposed to be healthy,” he said.
Easier said than done perhaps, but Graces 5 looks to be a place where a healthy meal is easy to find.
The planned opening date for Graces 5 is this Friday, Aug. 19, at 8110 164th Ave. NE. The hours are expected to be 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. for dinner Monday through Saturday. The juice bar will also be open earlier and in the gap between lunch and dinner.