Rocket Kitchen has blasted off in Albuquerque.
The health food restaurant works like a fast food restaurant, offering food to go or to dine in, with 27 different protein-packed meals — three for breakfast — containing less than 550 calories. Rocket Kitchen’s purpose is to “reinvent the fast food industry and provide healthy, on the go options for customers,” Carlo Dominguez, Rocket Kitchen’s founder and CEO, said.
Dominguez said his inspiration began in an airport when he realized unhealthy food was easier and faster to access than healthy food.
“I cannot be the only person who wants healthy, real food on the go,” Dominguez said. “No one is doing anything about it. I want to create a lifestyle. We live in an upside down world.”
Rocket Kitchen’s menu is categorized by the type of protein: chicken, red meats, turkey and fish. Breakfast items have their own category. The diverse flavor spectrum at Rocket Kitchen ranges from fajitas, tacos and barbeque to teriyaki chicken, eggplant lasagna and salmon.
“Our inspiration comes from traditional menu items from all different types of cuisines and cultures that we turned into a healthy and delicious original recipe version,” Dominguez said.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 reports two-thirds of all adults and about one-third of all children in the U.S. are either overweight or obese. Researchers suspect the number of overweight or obese Americans is because they consume too many calories in their diet. Over time, calorie overconsumption leads to a higher number on the scale.
Dominguez said living a healthy lifestyle consists of 80 percent nutrition and 20 percent exercise. However, without nutrition, exercise is less beneficial.
While Rocket Kitchen’s business model may seem designed for people who live fast-paced lives and hardly have time to eat — let alone get the nutrients their bodies need — Dominguez said his target market is not limited to that demographic.
Instead, he expressed his consumer base as average, health conscious people and “everyone who wants to make a change in their lifestyle to make healthier choices.” Dominguez described the community’s response toward his business as “phenomenal.”
Gabrielle Delgado has been a customer at Rocket Kitchen for about six months. She said the best part about the restaurant is its convenient service and the variety of fresh options that are offered for every meal.
“[Rocket Kitchen] has the advantages of fast food but it’s not,” Delgado said. “Their [employees] are very friendly and nice. I’ve never had a bad experience. You’re eating good food. You don’t have to worry about what’s in it. The fact that they have breakfast is another perk,” Delgado said.
Although Rocket Kitchen is not a diet-based establishment, Dominguez said many customers tell him they’ve lost weight from his products, ranging from five to 50 pounds. Dominguez said customer’s weight loss is “just a reaction from eating healthy.”
Delgado said because she’s a student and has a busy schedule throughout the week, Rocket Kitchen labeling their meals with expiration dates is a benefit for her. “I appreciate that — especially with fish,” Delgado said.
Delgado said she hopes Rocket Kitchen will add new recipes to their menu, or perhaps specials of the month or more customizable options. Her ideas stem from her personal fitness goals.
Delgado said she cut back on carbs for two weeks. During that time, a lot of the meals she bought included rice. To accommodate her food preferences, Delgado suggested Rocket Kitchen save the rice for another customer.
“You always get what you pay for. What do you get from a dollar menu? I’m hoping to be the guy who puts the brakes on the fast food industry and reverse the process,” Dominguez said.
Healthy meals are served to the Albuquerque community at Rocket Kitchen’s original location located at Paseo del Norte and San Pedro. In December, they launched a new location in the Bricklight District — across the street from the University of New Mexico’s campus on Harvard. It runs the same way as the original location.
Rocket Kitchen is open seven days a week– Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Elaina is a reporter for NM News Port — contact her on Twitter @elainatherprtr.