“Kind is Cool. Be Cool.” That’s the motto of the Village Den, a hip and happy health-food restaurant in the bullseye of New York City’s West Village. Lisle Richards, who owns and runs the robust hospitality company The Metric, launched the Village Den concept, along with partners Eric Marx and Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowski, in 2018. “I wanted to create a business that enables people to make a positive choice for themselves and others through food and community,” explains Richards. When the pandemic first hit, the team at the eatery, along with some of their regular customers, banded together to create and support a program to deliver donated meals to frontline healthcare workers at the hospital that is literally next door, Northwell’s Lenox Health.
“Our everyday choices matter,” explains Richards, who credits countless small acts of kindness for the restaurant’s ability to not only stay open—giving staff a place to work—but to also serve close to 5,000 meals to date. For more information or to donate, head to thevillageden.com.
What does a typical morning look like?
First things first—coffee, and lots of it. American drip. With flaxseed. And now that we are quarantined: I follow that with a thirty-minute workout and a shower. Then on to the laptop.
And what does a typical evening look like?
I have been cooking dinner every night. I own restaurants in New York City, and before all this quarantine and pandemic, the last thing I would ever want to do when I would get home is cook. But now, somehow, it is comforting and meditative.
How else have you been tackling stress and relaxing?
I will try and find space in the day to sit in quiet for at least 10 minutes, away from all devices. In business and in my personal life, I try to focus on what I can add to any situation, rather than what I can take from it. This keeps my focus on the process, rather than the results. And that, in turn, reduces my stress.
We hear so much about “wellness” these days. What does wellness look like to you?
For me, wellness means a life well-lived in balance. I believe that I need to pay attention to my physical, emotional, and spiritual health in order to be happy and useful.
Your restaurant The Village Den serves a gluten, soy, and red-meat-free menu. Do you have a diet and fitness mantra?
“Less carbs, more fun.” Love that Keto lifestyle. In all seriousness, I do try to eat a low carb, high lean-protein diet. The more greens the better. I don’t drink, so all my calories come from food. My weakness would have to be sugar: I don’t really feel that a meal is done without something sweet for dessert. As far as exercise goes, right now, I have been doing a lot of online Instagram classes: COREntine by @keonihudoba and @aarmy by @akiniko are two of my favorites.
Are you a high maintenance guy?
I almost never go to get pampered. I have never really liked facials or going to a spa or salon. I do everything at home. I am die-hard about my hair product though. I have a full shock of red hair, and I use a cream-based fiber. That’s make or break for me.
What’s on your grooming shelf?
Cologne No thank you.
Shampoo Dr Bronner’s Pure-Castile Peppermint Liquid Soap
Hair product Fatboy Fiber
Barber Rodney Cutler at Cutler Salon