AJ’s Keto Factory in St. Charles is committed to helping people eat healthier.
After first opening in the fall of 2020 as AJ Sliders, the business — located at 2075 Prairie St., Suite 110 in St. Charles near the Jewel-Osco store — recently reformatted itself and is now AJ’s Keto Factory.
AJ’s Keto Factory, which opened about four weeks ago, is focused on food that is low-carb, gluten-free, wheat-free, sugar-free and soy-free. Keto is short for ketogenic.
A ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. According to webmed.com, the idea behind a keto diet is to get more calories from protein and fat and less from carbohydrates.
A keto diet might help a person lose more weight in the first three to six months than some other diets because it takes more calories to change fat into energy than it does to change carbs into energy.
AJ Sliders also sold food that was low in carbs and free of soy, gluten, wheat and sugar. Those who stop by AJ’s Keto Factory will discover that it has more offerings than AJ Sliders did.
“We’ve expanded the menu,” said owner Lance Bell, who lives in South Elgin. “We want to support people’s keto lifestyle seven days a week, not just once or twice a month.”
The business now stocks such items as snacks, cake mixes and cookies, to name a few. Sliders are still on the menu at AJ’s Keto Factory along with other freshly made selections. However, they are bigger.
“These are meal-sized sandwiches, where you can have just one and a side and you’re full,” Bell said.
AJ’s Keto Factory also works with its customers to create meal plans.
While there is no indoor seating in AJ’s Keto Factory, Bell’s other business, AJ’s Java Joint, located at 586 Randall Road in South Elgin, offers plenty of seating. The business is a sugar-free coffee shop and keto retail outlet.
“The sandwiches and soups and the things we create here are bought up there daily,” Bell said. “You can sit down at one of our tables and have a meal.”
Bell has improved his own health by cutting carbs out of his life.
“It does a couple of different things,” he said. “Fat creates satisfaction. Very rarely are you hungry when you are on a keto diet. I only have one, maybe two meals a day. And I’ve been doing this for about 10 years. For me, from noon until 8 p.m. is the only window where I’ll eat anything.”
He did it because he was tired of gaining weight.
“Every 10 years on this planet, your metabolism drops 10 percent,” said Bell, who is 53. “I hit 200 pounds one day and on my frame, that’s a lot. I just felt miserable. I thought I’d try this thing out and I lost 23 pounds in like six weeks. It was too easy.”
He first experimented with a keto diet 13 years ago and has been on a keto diet regularly for 10 years now.
Mario Arevalo, director of operations at AJ’s Keto Factory, can also testify to how switching to a keto diet has helped him improve his health.
“I was 128 pounds heavier,” said Arevalo, who lives in Huntley. “But I still have my 128 pounds of taste buds. So I want to make sure textures, flavors and everything kind of consistent with what you would get at a normal restaurant. We have to portion it obviously for keeping it in the keto diet and there are certain restrictions we have to go by as far as ingredients and stuff. But that’s what I’m trying to do, completely change the way we look at planned meals or at diet meals.”
For planned meals, everything is done to order.
“Everything can be customized as far as your dietary needs,” Arevalo said. “We can provide anything you want. We can also provide snacks.”
For Arevalo, eliminating sugar and carbs from his diet also has eliminated the need for the medications he was previously on for type two diabetes and high blood pressure.
“I have been in remission for a year,” he said. “Doctors took away the medications. I no longer take them.”
Bell is a Christian and as such, said he wants his business to impact the world for Jesus Christ.
“We donate a lot of food to Lazarus House and just sponsored two events at Fox Valley Christian Action,” he said. “At Java Joint, we have Bible studies. I have a Bible study that meets there every Tuesday morning.”
AJ’s Keto Factory supports four local charities — Fox Valley Christian Action, Hero’s Rest/Shalam Ministries, Lazarus House and Wayside Cross Ministries.
Hours for AJ’s Keto Factory are from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. AJ’s Keto Factory is closed on Sundays.
More information is at its website, ajsketofactory.com.