OUR CHIEF REVOLUTIONIST.
It all started with a question (and possibly a tired sigh): “Why can’t we get something fresh and healthy from a drive-thru that tastes great, too?” Before Roushan and her husband Tony started Salad and Go, they were a busy couple juggling multiple schedules, conscious of the need to “eat healthy,” and frustrated by the restaurant industry. They noticed you could get food on-the-go that was cheap and convenient, but it wasn’t good for you; and you could get good-for-you food at a sit-down restaurant or even some fast-casual places, but it wasn’t cheap or convenient. So they did what anyone with no time to shop, prep, cook, and clean does. They did the best they could with the options they had and wished for something more – until one night….
While celebrating a birthday at an award-winning restaurant and enjoying one of the best Caesar salads of their lives, they couldn’t help but wonder aloud, “Why does a Caesar this good need to cost $15 and only be available at a fine-dining restaurant?” Enter executive chef Daniel Patino, creator of that very salad. Roushan and Tony were convinced if they could create a menu of craveable salads like that one, using the highest quality fresh ingredients at affordable prices, with the convenience of a drive-thru, they could help improve the health of America. They asked Chef Patino to join them on their adventure, and soon the team was off!
To be a true alternative to traditional fast food, Roushan and Tony realized they needed to create a cost structure low enough to offset the expensive ingredients they would be using. They reengineered the restaurant model to create a micro-footprint and focused menu that would help balance their high food costs. Meanwhile, Chef designed a flavor-forward, protein-rich menu that would appeal to carnivores and vegans alike, and loaded with items that could easily be ordered gluten-free, dairy-free, or further customized. Tony, the ravenous one, also made sure that each salad was a manly portion of 48 oz. to fill guests like him up and keep them going strong for hours.
The first Salad and Go opened on a sunny and hopeful day in February 2013 on Gilbert & Guadalupe Roads in Gilbert, Arizona. Never having done anything like this before, the team didn’t know what to expect. It turned out that demand was so huge, they sold out early on their first day! It seems Roushan and Tony weren’t the only ones who wanted something fresh, healthy, affordable, and great tasting, too. What started with a question has become a mission – for better, healthier drive-thru fast food for everyone.
No, but I always knew I wanted to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Before Salad and Go, I was an elementary school teacher in Tempe. My husband and I were seeing our parents suffer the beginning stages of heart disease, due in part to their diets, and decided we wanted to create something that would help everyone – young and old – eat healthy on the go. When we opened the first Salad and Go in Gilbert, we couldn’t have asked for a warmer welcome from the community. What has surprised me the most is how much my teaching experience has transferred over. Creating systems where individuals can know the procedures and expectations to be successful, while being in an environment where they feel important, appreciated and can thrive – it matters as much to 6 year olds as it does to 16 and 60 year olds. Now, I have former first grade students joining our team – how cool is that?!
We started Salad and Go to solve a problem. What I didn’t realize is how much the community would let us in on their struggle and share with us how Salad and Go has provided a solution in their lives. I didn’t expect to have people reach through the drive-thru window, touch my arm and say, “I just want you to know you saved my life.” You truly can’t work a shift without someone coming through the drive-thru and expressing how excited they are to have this in their neighborhood. From those battling cancer and needing more organic fruits and veggies in their diets, to the person who just learned of food allergies and now needs to learn a completely new way of eating, to the parent looking for a healthier option for themselves and their kids. We believe in removing the barriers to eating great tasting, good-for-you food!
The two most important things to our company are our Food and our People. One of my primary goals is to create opportunities for our Revolutionists, so that whether they choose to stay and grow with us, or eventually go elsewhere, they have the foundation for an amazing career. My other top goal is to reinvest in our food. Since starting Salad and Go in 2013, we have been able to upgrade much of our conventional produce to organic without raising prices. My plan is to continue this practice with the goal of having an entirely organic menu at our same low price-points.
Ooh, that depends on the day! Lately, I have been loving our Caesar salad with half romaine and half organic Tuscan kale, add grilled chicken! If not the Caesar, then I tend to get the Roasted Sweet Potato and Strawberry Salad. The Chia Seed Parfait has been calling my name a lot, too. Hmm, this is a tougher question than I thought!