ALPINE — Math tests, football practices, dance competitions, family time — with six children between the ages of 5 and 14, Aaron and Lychelle Day have their fair share of tasks to complete, places to be and obstacles to overcome.
But one challenge they don’t endure — despite each of those six kids having different personalities, likes and dislikes — is picky eating.
“It's not like most parents who deal with the pickiness of kids. My kids are not,” Aaron Day said. “They'll try anything. I have one daughter that will try anything from sashimi to oysters to you name it, she'll try it.”
What’s their secret?
“We're really foodies at heart,” Aaron Day said. “… We really just enjoy food and enjoy the experience of trying new foods, and so we've always ventured out of our comfort zone and try new things.”
That love of food is not only something the Days have instilled in their children, it’s also something they hope permeates into every facet of their business. The Days are the founders of Blue Lemon, the Utah-based restaurant chain known for its “fast-casual gourmet” offerings and cerulean citrus logo.
On Feb. 25, Blue Lemon reaches its 10-year anniversary, a celebration the Days view as a milestone for both their business and their family. When the couple began the process to open their first Blue Lemon location in Highland in 2009, they had three daughters. Now the family has grown to include six children as Aaron and Lychelle Day have adopted their three sons in the years since opening Blue Lemon.
“Having our kids and our family grow with the concept and with Blue Lemon, it's been really neat to see and sharing some of the experiences that we had with our kids and and having our kids involved is awesome,” Aaron Day said.
The concept for Blue Lemon developed out of a need the Days perceived in their own lives.
“There just really wasn't anything in our local area down here in Highland that … we would want to go eat, for instance, to go on a date night but was also place we could also take the kids to and feel comfortable doing so,” Aaron Day said.
The Days, who live in Alpine, had also been experimenting in their own home with different types of eating — from vegan to vegetarian to an all-raw food diet — and wanted to provide a restaurant that had a “healthful eating aspect” to it as well.
“Really that's what Blue Lemon's menu was envisioned and born from," Aaron Day said.
Initially, it was Lychelle Day who pushed forward with the restaurant.
“In the beginning, (Aaron) was working and I just wanted to create (Blue Lemon) as a hobby, which is very comical now because restaurants are not hobbies,” Lychelle Day said with a laugh.
But when the couple adopted their fourth child about a month before the first Blue Lemon opened in Highland, Aaron Day stepped in to handle more of the day-to-day business needs.
"It's really been a wonderful situation for us to work together because there's never been a hole,” Lychelle Day said. “… From where we started 10 years ago, our marriage is much stronger now … (and) our business is stronger now because of each other and how we are able to rely on each other.”
It hasn’t always been an easy road for the Days. Back in 2009, the idea of “fast-casual gourmet,” or “fast-fine” dining as it's come to be widely known, wasn’t a thing, according to Lychelle Day. Additionally, the couple opened the restaurant for about a week but quickly closed it back down for a month when they realized the menu just wasn’t working. They found a new chef, Todd Leonard, and worked with him to bring their ideas to the plate.
“Todd came on and really bought into the vision that we had and helped us create that menu and execute that menu, of course with our guidance,” Aaron Day said, “but he's really it as far as the execution side of creating all the recipes … and getting all the ingredients lined up.”
Now 10 years later, there are five Blue Lemon restaurants along the Wasatch Front from as far north as Farmington and south to the original Highland location. It was also just announced that Blue Lemon will be one of 23 restaurants opening at the revamped Salt Lake City International Airport, according to the Deseret News.
As a celebration of the company’s 10th anniversary and as a way to give back to the community, 10 percent of sales at all of Blue Lemon’s locations on Feb. 25 will be given to the Five.12 Foundation, a nonprofit that provides backpacks full of food for in-need elementary school students in Utah County. Food vendor Nicholas and Company will match that donation, according to a news release.
“It seems just to be a natural thing for us to support: feeding kids,” Aaron Day said. “That was one of the main goals with which we approached opening Blue Lemon.”
Both Aaron and Lychelle Day expressed gratitude for the support the community has shown them throughout the years but acknowledged the thing that has helped them most as they’ve built their business is their family.3 comments on this story
“It has a synergistic effect: Parenting definitely helps my ability to be a leader and to be a boss, but then also my leadership skills that I develop and hone at Blue Lemon have definitely helped at home,” Aaron Day said.
As for Blue Lemon’s future, Lychelle Day said they’d love to see it continue to expand in a natural way — as long as it works with their family.
“We would love to expand if it happens organically,” she said. “We've talked about 'Do we franchise? Do we do the private equity group?' … We're fairly contented, but I think that's because of where my children are at. … I want to be able to enjoy the time that we're in with them now, and so we're happy with that.”