CAREER SPOTLIGHT: DIETICIAN AND RESTAURATEUR MARISSA LIPPERT

One of my favorite things about moving to the West Village has been exploring all the boutiques, coffee shops, and restaurants in my new neighborhood. There’s a totally different energy down here and I can’t get enough! One of my best discoveries has been Nourish Kitchen + Table, a tiny café that’s open all day and has become a go-to for coffee meetings and takeout for lunch and/or dinner. The space is gorgeous and the menu makes it easy to eat healthy without spending a ton. I was pretty thrilled when I connected the dots and realized that the owner is Marissa Lippert, who used to write a food column for Rue Magazine when I interned there after college. (Isn’t it funny how things come full circle?!) Knowing little about the restaurant business and curious to hear about her career path, I asked if she’d be willing to sit down and answer a few questions about how she got started, what’s inspiring her, and what’s next for my favorite healthy takeout spot in my new ‘hood. She kindly agreed to an interview and instantly impressed me with her business savvy and personal style. Say hello to Marissa! 
 

Name: Marissa Lippert
Title: Nutritionist and owner, Nourish Kitchen & Table
Location: West Village, New York City

 

What was your first job ever? Have you always wanted to open a restaurant?
My first job ever was at the Gap — maybe there’s some link to retail there. I’ve always loved tactile magazines and newspapers, the food section and the coupon section. I would sit on my mom’s floor and flip through all the photos of food. I’m interested in the intersection between fashion and food. I don’t know that I’ve always wanted to open a restaurant but I’m definitely a visual person so the idea of a lifestyle brand combining food and retail made sense to me.

What did you do prior to opening Nourish?
After college, I worked in fashion as an assistant buyer at Saks. I really wanted to figure out a way to tie in fashion, food, and health; I just wasn’t sure how I was going to do it. Then I started a nutrition practice which I’ve been doing for the past nine years.


What were some of the steps that went into opening this space?
It took me a year and a half to find the space. I knew I wanted to be in this neighborhood on my old running loop. I got to know the West Village really well and could sense the energy of a single block — that can really impact the potential success of any store concept. It took me a while to finance it since I’m the only partner. But I always knew what I wanted the food to be so we developed the menu before opening and went back and tweaked it with customer input. 

 

What does a typical day look like for you?
The days are crazy right now. I attempt to work out a couple mornings a week, either running or doing yoga. If we have a big catering order, I’m here early and I stay late. I might be meeting with a new purveyor or planning out an event for the following week. Otherwise I’m working on a new recipe or a menu change with our head chef, running to the flower market, or curating recipes for our meal service. Really the whole Nourish experience is to help people who can’t cook or who don’t have the time or space to cook experience the enjoyment of eating great food on real plates, both within our space and outside of it. 

 

 

What are a few of your favorite dishes right now?
Our kale salad — we could never take that off the menu. We have a new Madagascar pink rice that’s really pretty and flavorful. We tend to take a lot of inspiration from the Mediterranean and the Middle East — there’s a global influence with seasonal ingredients.

You’re also a nutritionist. What’s one thing we should all be eating more of?
We could all do a better job on vegetables. When I started conceiving of Nourish, I had years of market research from my own clients. People wanted to know how to make salads interesting — they’re so good for your health, skin, and weight management. I’m a big proponent that 50% of what you put in your mouth every day should be fruits or vegetables. If you break it down meal by meal, it’s really easy and you immediately feel the impact — your clothes fit better and your skin instantly feels more dewey. 

 

 

And what’s one thing we should all cut out of our diets?
One thing to leave out is artificial sweetener. We don’t really know the impact yet and the word “artificial” should definitely raise eyebrows. The chemical breakdown of one Splenda is 600 times sweeter than a pack of sugar, which changes your tastebuds. People who use a lot of Splenda will bite into a juicy peach and won’t taste it as much. Their body is no longer satisfied by natural foods, which makes them more prone to gaining weight.


Oh boy… I am so guilty of putting Splenda in my iced coffee every morning. How can I kick the habit?
I use a packet of real sugar and some of our homemade almond milk. For iced coffee, I use a little bit of simple syrup. With good quality coffee and local milk, you don’t need as much sweetener.

 

I need to start coming here for my morning coffee! What’s the most fun part of your job?
Interacting with our customers and seeing people really use the space as it was intended: to be nourished. I’m very, very grateful that we get really positive feedback from our regulars as well as new customers in the neighborhood — we’re serving a purpose in their lives. The most fun thing for me is the energy that our team and the space give off. 
 
And the least fun?
Not sleeping enough. It’s a long day and a hard business, but I wouldn’t think of doing anything else.
That’s a great feeling. How do you stay organized?
Nourish’s brand director Allegra, who knows when to crack the whip. I’m old school — I keep a physical planner and a lot of little Moleskin notebooks for new recipes and magazine tears.
 
What are your next few goals for the business?
Other locations are certainly a possibility. I never had a longterm plan or vision — we’re still letting our day-to-day traffic and customer response guide us. I would love a commissary space for catering. And I’d love to collaborate with a larger brand on a juice bar or breakfast and lunch spot, like Toby’s Coffee in Club Monaco. That would be super interesting to me.

 

What’s one pinch me moment you’ve had so far?
Last summer, I was in a meeting at this exact table and not really paying attention when one of our employees tapped me on the shoulder. Martha Stewart had just walked in to have lunch!


What’s your advice for someone who wants to go into the restaurant business?
Do a lot of research. Keep pushing yourself. Have faith in your concept and your idea. Take breaks. You can’t be productive if you’re running on empty.

 

When will you know you’ve made it?
I don’t think you ever do. When you’re a driven, passionate business person, you’re always thinking of the next big or small thing.

 

Keep up with Nourish:
Restaurant  //  Facebook  //  Instagram  //  Pinterest  //  Twitter

 

6 thoughts on “CAREER SPOTLIGHT: DIETICIAN AND RESTAURATEUR MARISSA LIPPERT

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  1. I fell in love with the decor and food at Nourish when I stopped in last October, but I was especially impressed that it was run by an RD! As a fellow dietitian (interested in food, health, and lifestyle) I especially loved this post.

  2. Absolutely adore this interview. You know I’m a big fan of Nourish! Marissa is so talented and I love that her first job was at Gap 🙂 Thank you for sharing a behind the scenes look!