Who wants a salad? Just about everyone, it seems. Plant-based foods continue to be a major trend for eaters across all demographics and increasing demand has fueled the rise of many regional and national salad chains. How can you compete with the strong appeal of places like Mixt, Chop’t, Sweetgreen and Snappy Salads? Start by taking a page from their playbook and create your own version of an in-house “chain” experience for your customers. Here are some ways to learn from the salad bosses and incorporate big salad ideas into your operation.
Mix it up
If you want to compete with salad leaders, you’ll need to mix things up, and we don’t just mean when you’re tossing your salads with T. MarzettiTM dressings. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re varying your offerings. The big chains are always swapping in and out new menu ideas and limited time offers, creating a sense of urgency to order now before the item disappears (sort of a Pumpkin Spice Latte effect, but for fresh, nutritious greens).
Chop’t, for example, offers a menu of rotating “Destination Salads” that changes every 60 days. The salads, which are themed to global cuisines, include offerings like a Hokkaido salad made with soba noodles and sesame dressing or a Peruvian-influenced Andean grain salad with a quinoa, lentil and millet blend, sweet drop peppers, Peruvian radish salsa, olives, kale, spinach and purple cabbage.
KISS: Keep it simple, salad
It may seem like more is more in the salad world, but you’re actually smarter to build a salad around a few key ingredients. As Aneesha Hargrave, Chop’t executive chef said in an interview for Taste: “If you don’t want a soggy or heavy mess, four—at the max five—ingredients is the way to go,” she adds. “At a certain point the flavors just become murky.”
Balance out seasonal with pantry items
To keep costs in check, make sure you’re relying on cheaper pantry staples like beans and grains to offset the cost of pricier items like greens and proteins. Take advantage of in-house fermenting and pickling to add zip to lower-cost items like cabbage and onions. Feature fresh, local ingredients when they’re at their prime (and their cheapest).
Don’t forget the dressing
Customers demand the finest ingredients in their salads, and they expect the salad’s dressing to be just as uncompromisingly crafted. Clean label refrigerated Simply Dressed® dressings are made without high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial flavors, artificial colors or gluten. They’re created with ingredients customers can trust and are looking for, without sacrificing flavor. Choose from Honey Mustard, Light Rasberry Acai, Lemon Vinaigrette, Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette, Blue Cheese, Ranch, Caesar and Italian.