Mercer Island native Lisa Nordstrom cut her teeth as a teen working for the retail giant she eventually married into. In 2015, she created the Sano Bar — a line of energy bars without dairy, gluten, soy, or added sugars — which was picked up by Whole Foods and other grocery retailers. But her dream was always to open a cafe.
Nordstrom partnered with a chef and worked on recipe creations for a year before the perfect space opened up — the former Roberto’s Pizza storefront on Southeast 27th Street on Mercer Island. “Roberto’s is where I grew up going to my pizza parties, literally since I was a kid. Now, my kids are working here,” said Nordstrom of her daughters (ages 13, 16, and 18) and the cafe, which opened last year.
Sano Cafe is your favorite salad-avo-toast-juice-smoothie-bowl haunt rolled into one light-filled space complete with a “living” logo on one wall and a thoughtfully curated retail wall featuring many of Nordstrom’s favorite health products. During the development of the granola bar, Nordstrom was a frequent attendee of Natural Products Food Expo in Anaheim, allowing her access to the latest food trends and products.
“It’s great to provide a place where people, especially young people, can work on Mercer Island. It has been truly about being with my kids.” During Nordstrom’s childhood, her mother also owned a business on the island. In addition to providing jobs to local teens, Nordstrom has employed FareStart participants and also donates to charities like Food Lifeline that fight hunger and promote health. The word “sano” is the Italian equivalent of a healthy body and mind. “Complete health,” says Nordstrom.
The menu includes an assortment of juices, smoothies, and bowls full of nutrients and antioxidant ingredients. She also offers overnight oats and yogurt with house-made granola (with and without grains). Everything is customizable — add what you want; remove what doesn’t work for you. Five salad bases are good all on their own (the Harvest with spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, apples, dried cherries, hazelnuts, and a turmeric vinaigrette, for example) or in combination with wild cured salmon, chicken, marinated tofu, avocado, goat cheese, quinoa, or walnut parmesan. No modern cafe would be complete without a toast section. Sano Cafe features avocado, nut butter, and hummus variations. In addition to juices, espresso drinks and house elixirs (golden milk, matcha latte, etc.) are available.
Sano Cafe is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; closed Sundays.