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How CHOP5 Salad Kitchen Prioritizes Innovation with Ongoing Menu R&D

With a renowned chef helping to curate the menu of fresh chopped salads, this burgeoning chain offers a vibrant, fresh alternative to the status quo.

By Luca Piacentini1851 Franchise Managing Editor
SPONSOREDUpdated 12:12PM 03/28/24

In the fast-casual dining landscape, CHOP5 Salad Kitchen emerges as a trailblazer, redefining the experience of healthy eating with its vibrant menu of chef-driven salads, wraps and bowls. This innovative concept is born from the expertise of seasoned restaurateurs, collectively boasting over 400 dining establishments, and the culinary vision of a renowned chef with a distinguished career in the food industry. Together, they have created a menu that transforms the simple act of eating salads into a gastronomic delight.

“CHOP5 was inspired by the realization that, while anyone can mix ingredients in a bowl, the expertise of a chef elevates a simple salad to something extraordinary,” said Brian Mills, co-founder and co-owner of CHOP5. “That is why we’ve made sure to work directly with experienced chefs to create our signature salads.

Fresh Ingredients, Made-in-House Quality, and International Flavors

CHOP5 Salad Kitchen was created by a group of franchisees who collectively operated over 400 restaurants across various renowned brands, including Jersey Mike'sPapa John'sQdoba and more. The brand was founded nearly 10 years ago by a group of five restaurateurs who decided to create their own franchisee-led concept rather than follow the traditional franchisor-led model. After a year of research and ideation, they chose to focus on chopped salads and opened their first location in Columbus, Ohio. 

CHOP5 distinguishes itself in the fast-casual segment with its chef-created chopped salads (which can be enjoyed with a spoon) and a menu that includes build-your-own salads, signature rice bowls, soups, and a kid's menu. The concept features an assembly-line model, similar to Chipotle, with an emphasis on strong flavor profiles in its dressings and drizzles, enhancing the guest experience.

“We’re on a quest to make the healthy eating segment more dynamic and flavorful,” said Mills. “The direction of food trends is unmistakable. While classics like pizza and burgers are here to stay, there's a significant move towards healthier eating. People are seeking healthier options without compromising on taste. A prime example is a simple yet delicious salad.”

When designing the carefully-curated menu, the team knew they didn’t want to use pre-cooked items. They decided to create a menu in which everything was made in-house. This fresh approach has been pivotal in defining CHOP5's identity, focusing on chopped salads that are as nutritious as they are flavorful.

Additionally, the team wanted to tap into the growing popularity of international cuisine. The increasing diversity in the U.S. population influences culinary preferences, Mills notes, which is advantageous from a chef's perspective. 

"We combined the two most popular cuisines — Mexican and Asian — and added some Mediterranean influences,” said Mills. “We introduced quinoa, Mexican flair, Latin flavors, Mediterranean spices like cilantro and cumin, grains and roasted cauliflower rice. Our goal was to offer healthy, yet trendy options.”

The CHOP5 menu offers an impressively diverse assortment of chef-driven signature chopped salads, including the Harvest Chop Salad, Korean Chicken Chop Salad and Kale Quinoa Chop Salad, as well as signature rice bowls such as the Mexican Rice Bowl, Spicy Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowl and Mediterranean Rice Bowl. The brand also offers limited time, seasonal items like the Pesto Chicken Bowl and Brussels Sprouts Sweet Potato Bowl. Some of CHOP5’s signature in-house dressings include Chipotle Ranch, Pear Thyme Vinaigrette, Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette and Avocado Green Goddess.

In addition to a diversity of flavors, the CHOP5 bowls are also significantly heartier than most fast casual competitors, allowing the brand to better cater to the dinner crowd as well as the lunch daypart. 

Beyond its menu, CHOP5 prides itself on its culture of respect and exceptional service, striving to create a community akin to "grandma's kitchen." This ethos, combined with the sophistication of chef-driven cuisine, keeps guests returning for more.

Looking to the Future

CHOP5 remains at the forefront of the healthy, fast-casual dining revolution. The brand is dedicated to ongoing menu R&D in order to cater to the discerning tastes of its guests. And as CHOP5 continues to grow and looks to partner with franchisees across the country, the chef-driven innovation offers the brand a competitive edge in the booming market.

“It's about embracing the future of food,” Mills said. “Guests demand more from their meals — more flavor, more freshness and more nutrition. At CHOP5, we’re excited to be part of your wellness journey, offering meals that not only feed the moment but inspire a healthier lifestyle.”

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