For a local restaurant owner, giving back to GW is a family affair – with plenty of fruits and vegetables involved.
In 2010 Annie Leconte, her husband Didier Leconte and her son Eric opened Litestars, a restaurant she describes as a “healthier quick bistro” that specializes in gourmet tartlets, grain-based salads and their newly copyrighted “soupdrinks.”
While Leconte, an alumna, has recipes for dozens of healthy menu items, she was approached by Pi Kappa Phi to add another key ingredient to the bistro – philanthropy.
Litestars teamed up with the fraternity to hold a fundraiser at the 21 and L streets location in mid-November . The brothers got a nutritious meal and 10 percent of all the profits earned that evening.
Pi Kappa Phi brother, junior Will Gluckin worked on organizing the fundraiser. The fraternity donated the money to Push America, the national philanthropic organization owned by Pi Kappa Phi.
“Happy hour and healthy food – two of GW’s favorite things,” Gluckin said. “It’s like…if Sweetgreen and Cosi had a baby that likes to drink.”
The food options at Litestars were a change from some of the fraternity members’ usual dinner dishes.
“At first, the guys were not open to having quiche and salad for dinner,” Gluckin said about a group whose usual dinner venues are Burger Tap & Shake and Chipotle.
Menu options at Litesars include fruit smoothies, egg white omelet tartlets, a brown rice salmon salad and frozen yogurts.
“Everything here is made from scratch,” Leconte said, emphasizing the impossibility of buying anything unhealthy at Litestars. “We don’t even have a freezer.”
Litestars wants to continue its partnership with GW, working with Greek life organizations in the future to pair healthy eating with philanthropic causes.
Disheartened by the lack of choices in America besides pizza, hamburgers and fried food, she made it her mission to fight against the growing obesity crisis. Leconte joined the “Chefs Move to Schools” initiative – one facet of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign – and started educating children about healthy eating.
Based on the brothers’ feedback about the hearty salads and satisfying soups, Gluckin sees the possibility for future events on even larger scales.
Gluckin developed a bond with the Leconte family over shared GW experiences. He said the family business “could be portrayed as a GW success story.”
Chief Operations Officer and son of Annie and Didier Leconte, Eric Leconte graduated from GW in 2005 with a B.A. in business administration, and began working on the restaurant concept one year later.
“I had an equal say in the concept and vision of Litestars,” Eric Leconte, who is still making sure the vision of a healthy bistro is being followed, said.
A special Department of Agriculture software program allows the restaurant to provide nutrition information for every item on the menu, readily available on their website.
“For us, it was a major part of our concept to have that transparency,” he said. “It’s not just a marketing gimmick.”
Although he may not wake up at 4:30 a.m. to swim like his mother does, Eric Leconte still values a healthy lifestyle. Used to his mother’s healthy cooking, he said it was hard for him to adjust to food at GW.
“I was always looking for quick, healthy food,” he said.