The made-to-order salad market is king with health-conscious consumers, and local restaurants are seeing higher profits than ever. Baton Rouge is seeing to it that you get your servings of greens, and so DIG went out to lunch at three local shops that put their mark on salad in exciting ways.
The Shop: In 2013 The Salad Shop became one of the few destinations for healthy food in the Baton Rouge area thanks to LSU graduate Bradley Sanchez, who saw a need for a new specialized restaurant.
“I wanted to open up a place that was fast and casual, but had a focus on healthy because there wasn’t nothing like that in the area at the time,” Sanchez said. “And I really felt a stronger push from people to eat healthier, but the options just weren’t there.”
Sanchez said there was also a great big push at the time to see specialty restaurants that only focused on one type of dish, such as Chipotle or Subway. Sanchez wanted to focus on the salad after seeing a growth of health-consciousness in the city.
“You see a surge of people caring about what they’re eating in terms of nutritional value, but you also more and more people who are active and running,” Sanchez said. “It seems like there has been more emphasis on living a healthier lifestyle…You definitely see a trend of that.”
The Fixin’s: At The Salad Shop, you can make your salad as healthy and as nutritious as you want it to be. ‘Think Green’ is the slogan for this shop, and the quality of each salad reflects this.
“People like to know what they’re putting in their food more now,” Sanchez said. “People like to know the nutritional value, the calories. So you definitely feel a push towards that.”
With 50 ingredients and 18 dressings to choose from, the possibilities are endless. All the ingredients are fresh and chopped together in a metal bowl for your viewing pleasure. Once you approve your salad, it is tossed with dressing and placed in a recyclable plastic container ready to be enjoyed.
The Shop: Fresh Junkie opened up in downtown in 2007 with owner Pat Fellows seeing a need as well for healthier options in the city.
“It was kind of a change of pace with what was healthy downtown,” Fellows said. “Our goal was always to create food that tasted great that just happened to be healthy as opposed to selling healthy food. And over time it’s really taken off.”
The idea behind the shop was to change how Americans eat, but not how they got their food. To aid in their vision, Fresh Junkie operates a local food truck and hopes to offer a drive-through service at their locations.
“We want to give people a chance to get healthy food, fast,” Fellows said. “It’s been going well.”
The Fixin’s: When it comes to creating a best-selling salad, the ingredients are key, Fellows said. Rather than creating a salad heavy with the taste of preservatives, Fresh Junkie uses organic ingredients that are delivered that morning, along with house-made dressings.
“I think people are getting on board with eating healthier,” Fellows said. “Our passion is to get people healthy, and I think over time more and more of the population is realizing that eating right and exercising leads to a more satisfying life. You just feel better. I think that’s the biggest thing.”
There are between nine and 12 signature blends, which include classics such as The Caesar and BLT, along with rotating seasonal salads such as the Berry, Berry Salad.
The Shop: Opened in 2011, Fat Cow’s mission is to add gourmet twists to your traditional restaurant fare, while keeping everything locally made in Louisiana, according to owner Doug Hosford. While Fat Cow is more known for its burgers and shakes, they also feature freshly made salads to create a healthy yet tasty experience.
“We’re seeing increases in salad sales, and we’re a hamburger restaurant,” Hosford said. “We sell a lot of them; it’s really been a great item for us.”
The increase of salads are normally seen in the fall when school is back in session, and it increases every year.
“Every product is made fresh, and nothing is premade or precooked,” Hosford said.
The Fixin’s: At Fat Cow, salads can be topped with a variety of items ranging from grilled salmon to spiced pecans and fresh tomato salsa. Fat Cow makes everything in house with all natural ingredients. You won’t find store bought salad dressings here; it’s all handmade.
“So we know exactly what goes in there,” Hosford said. “It gives people a little more flexibility, especially for someone who has a gluten allergy, or someone who has a specific allergy. There’s no chemicals or preservatives.”