|Ype von Hengst of Silver Diner|
When a restaurant bills itself as "the next generation diner" and has a public relations agency, you know the folks behind it have ambitions.
But brush past what sounds like hype just long enough to meet Ype (pronounced Ee-pah) von Hengst, co-founder and chef of Silver Diner, a chain of 15 restaurants in the Washington D.C. area.
This is the man who took French fries off the kids menu. You heard that right.
"It's our moral obligation to give these kids great food so we don't have problems," he told me recently at the National Restaurant Association trade show at Chicago's McCormick Place.
Most of the children's menu consists of items that meet the NRA's Kids Live Well program. It requires a meal consisting of entree, side and beverage to have no more than 600 calories with less than 35 percent of the total coming from fat.
So a turkey, beef or bison slider comes with American cheese, but also a side of mixed vegetables. fresh strawberries or a salad. The sides can be substituted for other healthy fare -- edamame, brown rice or organic apple sauce.
Silver Diner will serve French fries if they are requested, but they do not appear on the menu.
Keeping fries on the down low isn't the end if it. The dessert menu has items such as a shake made of pomegranate juice, banana, yogurt and wheat germ and a low-fat strawberry angel cake.
"This is so, so important," he said. "Obesity is big in this country, and there's no good reason for it."