100% keto restaurants—will the future see them?

(Paul Melzer) #1

Newbie here—loving it—wondering whether or when there will be full-on keto restaurants all around us? I’m here in California and am thinking “Wow, if I had the means to open a new restaurant, this seems an opportunity to beat everyone else to the punch—open a fully keto-based restaurant, with gourmet offerings to show folks that such a lifestyle can be delicious as well.” While we can manage to maneuver our way through the menus in many or most restaurants (like any restrictive diet, I suppose), it’s just not much fun. Such a new restaurant (or even collection of such) would provide educational opportunities to a community as well as provide a place to treat yourself and loved ones to a meal out on the town.

Anyway, I’m kind of surprised that nobody’s jumped on this opportunity yet, and I’m curious about you experts and long-time keto folks as to why. Wouldn’t it be a success, especially if it were not too large a place?



(Tom Seest) #2

I think there will be some, but they’ll be limited like vegan and vegetarian establishments for a while.

It takes awhile for people to unlearn what they learned.

(Paul Melzer) #3

I’ll say!

As I’ve found my way into this lifestyle, I see supermarkets with new eyes: rows and rows of carbohydrate. I found my way to this diet not through desire to lose weight, but for general health and for my sport (endurance running), but was, and am, so pleasantly surprised about the mental and energy benefits. I wasn’t looking for these things, but they’re what are the constants that tell me this is not going to be a fad that I discard after a time.

Anyway, I would think that a smallish (say, seating 2 or 3 dozen people) restaurant would fair well in a city of my home town (about 70k) with a main highway passing through and set between two major cities (Los Angeles and Palm Springs).

(Tom Seest) #4

Another way to increase the viability is to have options that satisfy the low carb crowd too. Then, you really expand the base.


Never gonna happen, we’re less than the 1% and the failure rate on a new restaurant is HUGE, and that’s when you aren’t catering to an extreme minority. I have a former life in restaurant management and have thought about this a lot. IF you were in a trendy, small business loving city as I am and the people weren’t all about chains it MAY work but you would have to involve all the other outcast eaters, like Paleo, Vegetarian and Vegan people. It could only survive that way as like us, eating out sucks for them and would be into trying a place with more than 1 or 2 meals they could actually eat. Plus, they severely outnumber us so even then keto would probably be on the smaller end but would probably gain some keto’rs in the process. The Paleo/Primal people would most likely be the largest group, followed by the veggies and the vegans. Then us. It’d be awesome though, no doubt.

(VLC.MD) #6

If it makes economic sense then chains will offer Keto Meals and undercut prices.

Not to mention, you can usually hold the carbs in any meal.

(Paul Melzer) #7

I understand the idea that it’s “never gonna happen.” I also understand the idea that “it’d be awesome…” Like not hang-gliding higher than one is willing to fall, one should not go into the restaurant business without being ready to lose money for a couple of years (or lose it entirely).

But, here are a few things to consider: Firstly, our understanding (both scientifically and culturally) of fats/carbs in the diet IS evolving, however slowly. Secondly, between paleo and keto (and gluten-free and vegetarian/vegan, assuming some of the menu is such) you will get to much >1% of the community who would have interest. Thirdly, the words “diet” and “weight-loss” are worth about a gazillion dollars in marketing—have been for decades, now—so as LCHF lifestyles DO in fact lead to weight loss, then it stands to reason such a meeting place/restaurant would, so long as the menu was tasty and the venue was modest enough, succeed.


What is a keto meal? 80% fat and 0% carb? 60% fat and 10% carb? How much protein? You could eat a meal that keto for you but would throw me out of ketosis.

There could never be a keto restaurant, because keto isn’t a cuisine. There can be restaurants that serve meals using fresh, whole foods. There can be restaurants that have low carb offerings. There are many restaurants that are easy for me to eat at, ie. seafood/steak houses, sushi bars, salad joints, stir fry places.

If you’re looking to get in the restaurant business, Mark Sisson is looking to expand the locations of his Primal Kitchen Restaurants​.

(Paul Melzer) #9

Chains are chains—we all appreciate them for what they offer and reject them for what they simply can’t provide. (Plenty of successful restaurants are not chains.)

Appreciate the “devil’s advocacy” to my post, y’all. Maybe 'cause I’m still relatively bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about the whole thing I’m more positive about the idea. (I’m also someone who knows that it takes a greater percentage of “how can it succeed?” than “how might it fail” attitude to make something a go.

(Paul Melzer) #10

4dml, thanks for that. I think I’m using the term keto too loosely, sorry. I mean more of a HFLC focus, not one that will keep everyone in ketosis. Personally, and perhaps particularly because I’m not having to focus on weight loss or diabetic issues (my good fortune, I suppose), I’m less rigid about the diet and so I use keto and HFLC a bit more loosely than most.

Not looking to get into the restaurant business (but would welcome having one of those primal kitchens nearby).

(VLC.MD) #11

FWIW, I’d go to a local keto restaurant.
But my wife and kids are carbivores.

(Paul Melzer) #12

“Carbivores” …LOVE IT! :smile::smile:


I think us Keto folks are still too spread out and make up too small of a percentage of the population. Even the Paleo restaurants could only make it in the really large cities - like Hu Kitchen is still pretty popular in NYC.

I do think there’s going to be more Keto options on various menus at restaurants though.


What is a keto restaurant?


Like crab crab legs dipped in drawn butter*…
Ribeye covered in a mushroom cream sauce**…

  • Joe’s Stone Crab
    ** Morton’s Steakhouse

(Monique) #16

I’m with you Paul, and think it would be a fantastic idea. You never know until you try!

(Paul Melzer) #17

At the risk of your question being rhetorical, I’d suggest it might be one whose menu avoids sugars, pastas, breads, etc., and one whose recipes are either sans non-fiber carbs or limit them to <10%? I don’t, that’s a shot in the dark.


I think this is a fantastic idea, you’re anticipating something great and something I’ve been wishing for. And that the west L.A. or Palm Springs or Austin markets would be strong in the right locations with some publicity (like if world-class LCHF/keto athletes Sami Inkenen or Meredith Loring or celebs endorsed it). For example, L.A. now has several bustling vegan restaurants - and this was unheard of years ago.

I think back to the days when avocado was largely exotic outside of Mexican cuisine… and now it’s an option to add to burgers in many a restaurant. Vegetarian dinner entree options were a rarity but now are common, basic Gluten-Free used be considered somewhat Martian but is now being more accommodated, where global cuisine spices used to not go beyond garlic, parsley, oregano, thyme - but now you can order a reasonable stir fry or curried soup at many an independent restaurant in certain cities.

Gourmet food and new restaturants are always interesting to foodies! When restaurants routinely saute fresh ginger/garlic/green onions/fennel seeds/coriander, the aromas encourage appetites.

Such a restaurant would have its own compliance guidelines/nutritional data on recipes so as to be able to prepare them within LCHF guidelines. As far as carb counts, a menu can tag things so people can find recommendations for very-low carb (under 10grams carbs) as well as low-carb (under 30grams), and organic and vegetarian etc. Using little menu symbol icons, customers can navigate the menu and find their options and preferences easily - and a range of customers who are just curious foodies or guests of keto folks will just enjoy the menu regardless of carbs.

There’s probably a restauranteur name for a cafe design that offers specific foundational ingredients such as grassfed/humanely raised meats or organic milk cheeses - is sugar-free and only natural alternative sweeteners in desserts, and combined/assembled per order according to a limited range of recipes that provide for the customer’s spicing palate and offer a few choices for low-carb/lower-carb “breads” and lots of lovely veg dishes. In Austin where I used to live - there is a fast food cafe that serves only grassfed/antibiotic-free meats and will do lettuce wraps on request, but no low-carb or keto side options, and no organic/pastured dairy or coconut oil fat bombs or smoothies.

It’d have to have an appealing and effective name that reaches out to max customers, such as Primal Power Cuisines, or Keteo Bistro (keto + paleo). The marketing would state something about ‘tasty low-carb whole foods eatery’ so as to interest many types of low-carbers. LCHF/Keto dishes can also pass as some version of the popularized/meaningless “paleo” and thus be more popular - and maybe offer side dish options to ensure customers and their guests are happy, such as both cauli-rice and basmati-rice!

Small sit-down joints that have a high amount of to-go/delivery can be a good start. A wine menu or BYOB status always helps, though licensing is pricey one can now even get economical organic table wines from Trader Joe’s or Costco.

Personally, I’d be thrilled with a place you could count on for grassfed meats, wild-caught shrimp/salmon, coconut oil, grassfed butter on the menu that allows for different selections in the sides, which could accommodate LCHF as well as more Primal-Paleo folks and where vegetarian guests could have all veg dishes with a side of nuts!

It could provide for a nice range of spice cuisines meaning taking the basic animal protein (fish, fowl, pig, beef, shrimp) and offering options that provide some classic flavors according to how the customer orders it. For example, the greens-of-the-day can be prepped then quickly prepared to deliver various tastes such as bacon fat/smoked taste, or garlic-ginger, or buttery salt.

North American classic food: sweet-hot BBQ sauce over broiled fatty meats or turkey legs, bleu cheese/ranch dressings, creamed cabbage, catfish, cauli mac n cheese, wild caught Alaskan salmon w/ lemon cream sauce n herbs, GREENS

Mediterranean: broiled/roasted fatty chicken with lovely antipasto/marinated veg opitons, parsley-tomato-lemon-romaine-kalamata -feta salad, BABA GANOUJ with romaine boats, organic black soybean bread + cheese + olives

South Asian (ginger, green chilli, onion, coriander), a few curried sauces that go with lots of meats/veggies, plain paneer or ricotta cheese-stuffed keto griddle breads

North Asian (tamari, sesame, ginger), etc. such as choice of fatty meat steamed with fresh ginger, green onion, and tamari - with cauli-rice, a good stir fry broccoli

So… foodie encouragement!


I think a keto-based food truck would do well, without needing to call itself “keto”. Just offer the richness of the diet, no apologies.

(Tom Seest) #20

Another advantage to the food truck idea, is that it offers the one on one potential of relationship building and education. This can be more limited in a restaurant.