Garden Bar checks all the boxes when it comes to what health-focused, environmentally conscientious Portlanders want in a meal.
The fast-casual concept offers a seasonally changing menu of hearty salads — available by the 32-ounce “basket” or 48-ounce “bushel” — with robust flavors starting at $9.
Dine-in guests, which make up around 20% of traffic, eat their meals from porcelain bowls with proper silverware and glassware. Customers ordering takeout can get their salads in compostable bowls, wrapped in whole-wheat or regular flour tortillas, or in sturdy plastic bowls that guests return to any Garden Bar to be washed and reused.
The chain also promotes its catering options prominently on its website, and has arranged with large corporations in Portland, Ore., such as Nike and Wieden + Kennedy, to deliver to their business campuses weekly — a service Garden Bar promotes with reminder emails.
Ana Chaud founded the chain in 2014 out of frustration of not being able to find a healthy meal during the 30 minutes she had for lunch.
“I found I was going to Chipotle every day and getting a salad, but that’s only five ingredients” — and that’s not enough variety to live your best life, she said.
Garden Bar’s menu include such options as the Northwest Bowl with kale, quinoa, baked tempeh, rainbow carrots, beets, goat cheese, dried cranberries, hazelnuts and hemp seeds in Green Goddess dressing; and the Tuna Niçoise with buttered lettuce, seared ahi tuna, hard-boiled egg, Yukon Gold potatoes, green beans, cherry tomatoes and Kalamata olives in vinaigrette.
They’re all customizable, of course. All cooking is done at a central commissary, allowing for faster service and a less expensive buildout for each unit. All locations are company-owned, and Chaud said she has no immediate plans for franchising.
Since its founding in 2014, Garden Bar has grown to nine locations, all in the Portland area. The chain is one of five emerging brands being honored as a Hot Concepts award winner by Nation’s Restaurant News. The awards program is sponsored by V&V Supremo. Winners will be celebrated during the annual MUFSO conference in October.
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