"We're going to create a change in America."
Fast-casual chains like Sweetgreen have raised the nutritional bar for office-dwellers at lunch time, but it's still hard to find anything resembling a healthy meal when you're on the road. Now, a chain concept promises to change that: At Salad and Go, an Arizona-based restaurant, drivers can get greens straight from the drive-thru window for a very reasonable $6 per bowl.
Former elementary school teacher Roushan Christofellis was first inspired to get into the restaurant business in 2013 after she and her husband, Tony, found it difficult to eat well on a hectic schedule. "We kept saying over and over again, why can't I just get something great tasting and good for you with the same convenience, speed, and price of traditional drive-thru fast food?" Christofellis told Fast Company.
According to Christofellis, she and her husband first became inspired to eat better after watching their parents deal with age-related health issues. The couple began to look more closely at the ingredients in the foods they were eating, watching documentaries like Food Matters and Fork Over Knife to educate themselves on the the kinds of dietary changes they needed to make to live a healthier life.
After altering her own diet, Christofellis noticed the complete absence of fresh, healthy, fast food in her community—but knew that offering $12 bowls—standard for other salad chains—was not the answer. So, the couple set a $6 limit, to compete with traditional fast food chains, and streamlined their operation to accommodate the price point. Their first location is in a tiny 656-square-foot building, which lowers maintenance costs, and offers a limited the number of ingredients. Still, freshness comes at a price: Salad and Go spends up to 60 percent more than the industry average on food costs. They aim to make up for it with a strong revenue per square foot, given their small space.
Christofellis hopes that her restaurant not only introduces a new model of healthful possibilities to the fast food industry, but becomes a standard stop for every road tripper in the future. The chain hopes to expand into other states within the next 18 to 24 months. According to the Salad and Go founder, "We're going to create a change in America."