Just Salad LLC, a 30-unit fast-casual concept, has unveiled a new, eco-friendly design in New York City that will provide a template for future development and remodels, founder and CEO Nick Kenner says.
The New York-based salad concept opened new the restaurant this month in Manhattan, on 7th Avenue across from the Fashion Institute of Technology, bringing forward a sleek, modern design to enhance its positioning on fresh, local ingredients and sustainable aspects such as reusable salad bowls.
“We’ve always been very passionate about serving healthy, affordable food fast,” Kenner said in an interview Wednesday. “What were most excited about now is serving great product at a great price in a great environment that reflects our brand and who we are.”
The new restaurant provides an opportunity to hone Just Salad’s eco-friendly positioning for future development, Kenner said. The concept was founded in 2006 in New York City, and now has 30 units, with 23 in the New York area, two in Chicago, two in Hong Kong and three in Dubai.
“We realized there was a great opportunity to upgrade our store design,” Kenner said. “The redesign took more than a year. We wanted it to be modern and sleek but still warm and accessible. A big part of who we are is being healthy for everyone.”
The design, which departs from the lime green walls of earlier restaurants with lighter colors and new signage, touts Just Salad’s use of reusable bowls and features the orange containers prominently at the start of the service line.
“Every time a customer uses the bowl, they get two free toppings for their salad. It’s been a very, very popular program,” Kenner said. “We’re passionate about saving plastic. We saved about 75,000 pounds of plastic last year in New York City alone.”
Customers typically re-use the bowls for up to a year, Kenner said.
The redesign also allowed for new signage, including mirrors on which staff members can write and update local and organic ingredients that are available for the salads.
“All of our product is fresh,” Kenner explained. “We don’t use any canned items for our salad toppings. Everything comes in fresh. We felt: Why not get credit for it and show our customers that we are doing it?”
The brand uses free-range, grass-fed beef; antibiotic-free chicken; sustainable seafood; and organic tofu as proteins.
“We felt there was an opportunity to let the customers know that as well as to bring life to the space,” he said.
Behind the service line, fresh products are on lighted display in crates to enhance the freshness cues, he said.
“Also, it serves as storage,” Kenner said. “In New York City, storage is limited. To be able to have and use it for the restaurants is very helpful.”
The new restaurant is about 1,600 square feet, with 20 seats. Between 90 and 95 percent of Just Salad’s sales are to go, he added.
Just Salad worked with the firm Architecture Outfit for the redesign. That firm has worked also with Chipotle Mexican Grill and its ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen concept, Kenner said.
“The Just Salad salad is stripped down to natural ingredients with no additives, so we took that idea and applied it to the design,” said Thaddeus Briner, owner of Architecture Outfit, in a statement. “Our space is no frills and comprised of utilitarian materials like painted wood, kindorf fittings and poured concrete.”
Kenner said some older restaurants will be refreshed with aspects of the new look.
“We will be going back in and making most of the New York locations with this design,” he said, as well as applying it to new restaurants scheduled for Chicago.
Some of the specific aspects of the new Just Salads design include:
Smart heating, ventilation and air-conditioning duct work: “Our unit has smart capabilities and adjusts to the minimum load based on real-time conditions in the store,” a spokeswoman said. “It constantly is adjusting to operate at peak efficiency, using about 25-percent less energy than a normal system.”
Denim fabric wall coverings: The material is manufactured in a facility that’s certified environmentally friendly.
Shibori seat mats: The seating fabric was made from local recycled materials in Brooklyn, N.Y., with dyes from ethically sourced plants. No chemicals were used in the manufacturing process. A large percentage of the dye water was recycled back into a garden.
Energy-efficient lighting: All the fixtures in the restaurant use light-emitting, or LED, bulbs, which last longer and are more energy efficient than traditional incandescent and compact fluorescent lighting.
Eco-friendly cleaning supplies: Just Salad works with a company that is certified eco-friendly and is committed to sustainable business practices.