Lucia and Ken Schnitzer are the founders of Luci's Urban Concepts, a group of healthy eating restaurants in the Phoenix area. Each with its own look and feel, Luci's at the Grove, Luci's at the Orchard and Luci's Healthy Marketplace have an eclectic ambiance focused on the community they are a part of.
The branding of Luci's Concepts began early-on when there was a fire at the original Luci's Healthy Marketplace.
"We rebuilt Luci's, and it was a very pivotal point for branding. We were heavy on supplements and groceries at first, and then we reflected on what worked and what didn't and changed the module," Lucia says.
Groceries and made-to-order food is what the neighborhood called for, and because of the overwhelming support given during the fire, Lucia and Ken were open to suggestions. They also added a partner named Jerry, who refined operational aspects of the kitchen.
Other Luci's locations followed, each with a look and feel customized to its community.
"Our Orchard location has an agricultural aspect. I remember standing on that property with my newborn youngest child, and it felt like the ground wrapped its roots around me, much like a field of dreams feeling. Now seeing it thrive, it has done so much for our community. We create moments that count every day on our properties from weddings to birthdays; it's about family togetherness," Lucia shares.
Lucia says it is essential for their brand to focus on where each of their restaurants will enrich the community and truly belong to its members as their special spot.
"When the Grove concept began, we looked at an old church, and I immediately felt good about it. I saw people walking nearby and on bikes; it was just a beautiful site, and the community was so excited about us. Our team worked hard on every detail from the flow to the kitchen, and I am proud to say that it is now a flagstone for future Luci’s, as well as the first we built from the ground up."
Other locations were carefully renovated classic Phoenix homes where Lucia and Ken sought to retain their original charm, complementing with new elements like mosaic tilework, handmade glass dividers, and lighting.
The process that led to the success that is Luci's today started in 2009, out of tragedy. Lucia was diagnosed with breast cancer when one of her four children was only six months old. While undergoing treatment, Ken mentioned the concept for Luci's.
"To Ken, it was a metaphor for hope; Luci's was built on the idea of making each moment count. Anything we do with our time should serve a purpose, whether it's to be creative or enjoy a happy time or even to develop and nurture relationships; that was a key motivator."
Lucia shares that Ken was very enthusiastic about the project, trying to overcome his frustration over the disease that had stricken his wife as a young, healthy mom. He was adamant to refocus his attention on health awareness, and Luci's branding is centered around that ideal—good ingredients and a marketplace for wellness and personal care.
Ken had a food distribution background and an entrepreneurial spirit. He and Lucia have since expanded their team to create an inner circle of visionaries such as their director of operations, Michelle, who has added clarity and order.
"As a business grows, you need to be open to bringing others on board to relinquish tasks you aren’t perfect at. I also have stepped back, solely consulting on new projects, so I can focus on my family, but I am still here, just at a different level."
Luci's at The Orchard boasts Pomelo Fine Dining and Splurge Ice Cream and Candy Shop, and each location houses creative local gifts. As for the food, each dish is handcrafted and unique with a healthful twist.
"Our gluten-free options are plentiful, and I highly recommend the Turkey Lurkey, Luci’s Grassfed Burger, our Protein Bowls like No Spring Chicken, our delicious Beet Salad and, of course, our Chilaquiles."