New York City-based Just Salad was in a peculiar spot when the pandemic started. A small restaurant company — only 50 units — the fast-casual salad chain decided in March 2020 to donate meals to hospital workers while its own stores were temporarily shut down due to COVID restrictions.
But, as CEO Nick Kenner explains, it’s in the brand’s DNA, caring for fellow New Yorkers and leaving the world better than when the company began.
Another important element of that is sustainability, something that became trickier to uphold during COVID, when regulations took away the ease of reusables.
That, however, did not stop Just Salad and the team’s chief sustainability officer Sandra Noonan from continuing to innovate.
“We’re always going to focus on sustainability; it’s our north star,” said Kenner.
And Kenner points out that sustainability is not a financial hole as some companies think it is. In fact, Just Salad grew units and left 2020 in the black while remaining green at its core.
“[Sustainability] does not run counter to business…consumers demand it and consumers know which brands are doing it to do it and which are doing it to lead,” he said.
Watch and listen to Kenner explain Just Salad’s “north star” and how the company managed positive same-store sales in 2020.