Top Chef alum Spike Mendelsohn made a name for himself in DC with burgers and slices, but lately the Good Stuff Eatery and We the Pizza restaurateur is all about wellness. After teaming up with Michelle Obama on her Let’s Move! campaign and serving as mayor Muriel Bowser’s Food Policy Council chairman, Mendelsohn has taken on his biggest business project yet: providing all the food and beverages at Springfield’s the St. James complex, a 450,000 square-foot health and wellness mecca that just opened in September.
“The people at the St. James envision something very disruptive. They want a center of the universe for families and athletes to come and focus wellness and sports,” says Mendelsohn. “It’s awesome to be able to turn the advocacy work I was doing into a business.”
The center boasts two NHL regulation-sized ice rinks, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a turf field fit for FIFA players, a three-story health club, a climbing wall, an indoor water park, a luxe spa, and seven party rooms where Mendelsohn is preparing to cater a sleepover party for 400 kids “night at the museum-style.” Throughout the facility are a mix of quick-grab kiosks, bars for both smoothies and booze, and an all-day sit-down restaurant, Vim & Victor, which just opened to the public. (Anyone can come and dine, though patrons have to pay to use various sports and wellness services.)
Mendelsohn and longtime chef Brian Lacayo took a something-for-everyone approach with Vim & Victor’s menu, offering grilled proteins for athletes, spa-friendly fancy toasts, and cast-iron wings with beers for the hockey crowd. Appetizers, sandwiches, salads, and burgers (meaty and Beyond Meat-y) are chef-designed, whereas patrons can mix-and-match main proteins and sides. The food doesn’t play to a particular cuisine, diet, or trend, though there’re plenty of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and low-to-no-carb options.
“I did research about what athletes eat, and it’s less about composed plates and leaving more room for liberties,” says Mendelsohn.
To drink, there’s anything from fresh fruit cocktails to Mendelsohn’s own line of CBD-infused PLNT waters, local beers, and American wines. Early-risers can head to the grab-and-go cafe for fresh-pressed juices and turmeric lattes. The counter, which opens at 6 AM and runs through the evening, will also serve quick eats like açaí bowls, breakfast sandwiches on homemade English muffins, wraps, pizzas, and baked goods (both vegan/gluten-free and “the fattiest, most delicious pastries,” according to Mendelsohn).
Mendelsohn, a hockey and water polo player (among other sports) is already enjoying the house benefits—as are his 60-odd employees, all of whom get a St. James membership as a perk of the job. He says the wellness aspect has proved to be an asset for attracting good staff.
“It’s easy to hire when you can be like, hey, you can go to the sauna after service,” says Mendelsohn.
Vim & Victor at The St. James. 6805 Industrial Rd., Springfield; 703-705-9549. Open daily at 11 AM; grab-and-go open daily at 6 AM.