Lululemon Enters the Restaurant Industry with Fuel

Lululemon is no longer just an athletic apparel company: the retailer is opening a new restaurant in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago.

Called Fuel, the food and beverage concept boasts a full kitchen and offers smoothies, salads, and protein boxes as well as burgers and beer for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The restaurant is part of a larger 20,000 square foot Lululemon store with two fitness studios.

According to Maureen Erickson, the vice president of experiential retail for Lululemon, this was a natural transition. “Our guests want everything under one roof,” says Erickson. “Building community through connection has always been at the heart of Lululemon. Both online and offline, and Lincoln Park is the physical manifestation of the heart and soul of Lululemon.”

Fuel evokes a fast casual feel with grab-and-go options as well as bar seating and dining tables. An additional space called the “connection room” is designated for Lululemon patrons looking to have a snack or drink after finishing a class.

“Food fuels you, but good food fuels you emotionally, too,” adds Erickson.

Lululemon is not alone in this endeavor: other retailers have been making similar ventures. Crate and Barrel also just opened a full service restaurant this month. Called Table at Crate, the restaurant is designed to showcase Crate and Barrel furniture, plates, and silverware for customers.

Table at Crate is “Crate and Barrel come to life,” says Bill Kim, the chef for Table at Crate. “This is an interactive experience.”

The executive chef of Fuel, Paul Larson, suggests that Lululemon has a different approach. “We want to make sure we always stay on trend with what they need.” The overall Fuel experience does not overtly reference the retailer’s products. The menu is, however, designed with Lululemon’s typical customers in mind.

The menu caters to a number of diets. According to Erickson, Lululemon has a number of vegetarian and vegan patrons as well as burger-loving customers. She stresses that Fuel is “also for people like me who like to work out so I can eat a good cheeseburger.” The goal is flexibility.