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NBA star Ray Allen opens up healthy fast food restaurant

HEALTHY LIVING: Ray Allen and wife Shannon have opened Grown - a health fast-food restaurant

PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL player Ray Allen and his wife have opened a fast food restaurant in Florida with a healthy twist.

While playing for the Boston Celtics, one of the NBA star’s children was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

His wife Shannon began cooking healthy, natural meals at home, but being an over-scheduled modern mother, shuttling five kids to football games and events, she quickly became frustrated with the lack of non-processed options available out on the road.

In 2008, after consulting with experts from Harvard’s Business School and School of Public Health, she developed a business plan to open a healthy fast food restaurant with a drive-through.

Eight years later and after a trade to the Miami Heat team, the Allens opened Grown two months ago, and the response has been overwhelming.

Developed by the couple, Grown is said to be "real food, cooked slow, for fast people," meaning it fuses a farm-to-table concept using organic, local, and nutritious ingredients with the essence of a fast-food locale.

“Grown was born out of frustration,” Shannon says. “At home, I do my best to prepare delicious, nutrient-dense meals for our five children, including our son Walker, who is living with type 1 diabetes. Like most busy families, we juggle homework, after-school sports, and everyday commitments — we live in our cars. I had an aha moment where I realised I couldn’t sit around helpless waiting for someone else to create a fast-food option that met our family’s dietary needs."

To help conceive Shannon's idea, the couple organised a team of experts to build Grown from the ground up. Dubbed the "kitchen cabinet," the health-knowledge squad that worked with the pair includes Michael Rose of Rose Capital Advisors; Tara Mardigan, director of nutrition at Fruit Street Health and former team nutritionist for the Boston Red Sox; Asha Loring, executive director of Health in the Hood; Faheem Mujahid, a trainer and holistic lifestyle coach; Sally Sampson, founder of ChopChop, a family-oriented cooking magazine; and Gabriele Marewski, founder of Paradise Farms Organic in Homestead.

Two more Florida locations are in the works, and Shannon, whose mission is to bring this kind of accessible wholesome food to fast-paced families everywhere, hopes to open more, ideally thousands more, across the country.

She cooks, greets, serves and is in the restaurant almost daily. Ray, who retired a 10-time All Star, two-time NBA Champ and Olympic Gold medalist, has been making sandwiches behind the counter and their kids have bussed tables at busy times.

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