Becca Kist's discovery of a new business venture and the construction of a retail space in the heart of New Albany lined up to create a perfect opportunity for her and her husband.

"It was just kind of meant to be," the New Albany resident said.

Six months ago, Becca Kist and her husband, Kasey, visited the Freshii restaurant in Dublin and realized the brand's focus on healthy living resonated not only with their own lifestyle, but that of their city's, they said.

Freshii, a Toronto-based fast-casual restaurant franchise, specializes in healthful foods.

On March 16, the Kists opened their own Freshii at 160 W. Market St.

The restaurant is within Market and Main II, a 48,000-square-foot commercial building developed in a joint venture by the Daimler Group and the New Albany Co.

The proximity to the heart of New Albany means the restaurant is accessible to patrons on foot or on bikes, said Kasey Kist, who is a member of the city's planning commission and board of zoning appeals.

The location should be a boon as the city completes the revitalization of the Rose Run creek corridor and the Kaufman Development apartments at Market and Main are built, he said, and it also happens to be within walking distance of the Kists' home.

"There's just going to be an energy here," he said.

With the Kaufman apartments and more residential construction behind the Keswick condominiums, the support is there for retailers, including the Kists, said Jennifer Chrysler, New Albany's community-development director.

Kaufman's 130-unit apartment complex will be built on both sides of Main Street, south of the Market and Main streets roundabout.

"The apartment project is certainly helping to drive densities that are necessary in order to bring these kinds of uses here," Chrysler said.

The new residents help contribute to weekend and evening densities for retailers, she said, while Market and Main II tenants help draw daytime customers.

Businesses at Market and Main II include the Wallick Communities headquarters, Columbus Obstetricians-Gynecologists Inc., Board & Brush Creative Studio, Hayley Gallery, PetPeople and Truluck Boutique.

New Albany is excited about having another strong retail operator in the village center, Chrysler said. Residents have been asking for healthy places to eat in their community, she said.

Because they live in the community, Kasey Kist said, he and his wife wanted a healthful dining option, such as Freshii.

The Kists, who since have taken over ownership of the Dublin Freshii at 6745 Avery-Muirfield Drive, also were able to draw on their respective career experiences to open the restaurant.

Kasey Kist, who owns Keystone Building Contractors, said he designed the interior in about eight weeks.

Meanwhile, Becca Kist said, she was ready for a career change after a 17-year career at Express that culminated in an executive position.

Going into food service wasn't completely out of character for her, however.

Becca Kist said she follows in a tradition of restaurant ownership started by her parents and siblings, who own such franchises in central Ohio area as Popeyes Louisiana Chicken and Qdoba Mexican Eats.

She said she wanted to choose a brand that represented her family's lifestyle. She said she liked Freshii's healthful options, along with its biodegradable packaging.

The company's donations to its charity also resonated with her, she said.

"This was really important for us to be a part of, because it represents everything we kind of live," Becca said.

The support of the community has helped Freshii have a strong opening, Kasey Kist said. During its opening weekend, the Kists served more than a thousand people, he said, far exceeding what they had expected.

"It's been insane," he said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah