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Lettuce Wrap It dishes up healthy dining in the Crossroads

By ALLISON MILES
Oct. 30, 2012 at 5:30 a.m.

Chef salads are among the menu options at Lettuce Wrap It, a new eatery at 2511 N. Laurent St. The business, owned by Gayle Dar, prides itself on offering healthy items that taste good.

Lettuce Wrap It is at 2511 N. Laurent St. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call 361-579-0600.

Health-conscious residents take note: there are new lunch options in town.

Lettuce Wrap It, a Weight Watchers-inspired eatery with soups, salads, sandwiches and more, opened Oct. 15 at 2511 N. Laurent St.

"This is your healthy version of fast food," owner Gayle Dar said as she pulled a panini off the press. "It's something different."

The goal is to serve up healthy options with lots of flavor, the Victoria native said. Nothing is fried or cooked in added oils, and nutrition information is listed alongside menu items.

Still, the menu is a work in progress.

Dar said she had plans Wednesday to try a new quiche recipe and encouraged customers to offer up any critiques or suggestions.

"These are just things in my mind that I knew we could put out and make well," she said. "We want to keep everything healthy, but we want people to know that if there's something they want, they can tell us."

Dar was born in Victoria but, in 1992, left for the Midwest. After a visit home for a family funeral - her first time back in two decades - she decided it was time to return to her roots.

This isn't her first time working with food.

Dar worked as a server during college and, while away from Texas, supplemented her full-time teaching job at Iowa State University with A Hot Mess, a shop that offered up hot beef sundaes on weekends.

Jacob Lira sat on a barstool Tuesday, munching a chef salad and visiting with Dar as she filled orders. The Wells Fargo teller, who is friends with the owner, said he ventures in several times a week for lunch.

Lira, who said he's working to get healthier, said he was glad for new food options in town.

"It makes it a lot easier when you can get stuff you like, but it's still good for you," he said, noting the buffalo chicken wrap was his favorite item so far. "This is great."

Dar's mother and business partner, Pat G. DeDear, busied herself filling drink orders, preparing dips and making sure diners had what they needed. An industry pro - she once owned a restaurant in Ingleside also managed a pharmacy snack bar - she said she enjoys being behind the counter.

Having her daughter home, however, is even better.

"I've waited 20 years," she said, blinking away tears. "She's my baby, and it's just awesome to have her back."

Dar said she enjoys it, too. After so many years away she's relearning how to be Texan, she said, but likes what she's doing.

Customer traffic is already picking up, she said, noting Thursday brought in 73 customers - her heaviest day yet.

The new venture is trial and error, but Dar said she's already reaped the benefits.

She's become closer with her father and stepmother since her return, she said. And her parents, who couldn't be in the same room together in the past, sat inside the restaurant Tuesday, talking.

Simply knowing the business has brought the family closer means the world, she said.

"This is worth it," she said. "Regardless of how things pan out with the restaurant, it's all worth it."

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