With Saladworks’ new CEO Patrick Sugrue, who joined the company in Q1 of 2016, came lots of exciting changes to the salad concept this year. The brand may be 30 years old, but the innovation and atmospheric shifts are more reminiscent of a startup.
“In 2016, we focused our attention on stores that weren’t living up to the brand promise and devised plans of action to make updates across the brand,” says Sugrue. “The results were a very good 2016 with store sales up over 8 percent. I think we’ll continue to see this kind of growth in 2017, too.”
The new Saladworks standard, with the new store design, updated menu and additional franchisee support, is setting up franchisees to be in a better place than they’ve ever been in before. The brand’s new store design includes a warmer and welcoming atmosphere with earthy tones and exposed ceilings, which will be implemented at every unit. Technological advances and other improvements have all led to a renewed hype around the new store design.
While the brand is making major changes across the board, one of the shifts Sugrue is most excited about is the implementation of new technology, currently in test in their company location. When guests walk through the door of any Saladworks in 2017, they can expect to have the option to order their food via the brand’s new kiosk. The beauty of this new technology is that it makes for a completely customizable, individualized experience, with options for certain types of diets and nutritional data. As more people are adjusting their diets due to restrictions or lifestyle choices, the ability to know exactly what you can and can’t eat at a restaurant is incredibly empowering.
Saladworks will also continue to roll out new seasonal, fresh items on their menu, which is crafted by executive chef Andy Revella, who had worked with Sugrue in a previous role.
“We expect to see more and more variety-seeking veggie lovers coming into our stores looking for the freshest seasonal ingredients,” says Sugrue. “We have a very loyal foundation of core consumers who’ve made this brand what it is. Providing them with these new menu options is just one way to recognize and thank them.”
As the brand sets out to implement these many changes, they’ve also taken the time to really consider how to assist franchisees and continue to service their customers while stores need to temporarily shut down for remodels. By coming up with what they initially expected to be a temporary solution, they’ve incidentally entered a thriving business platform: the food truck.
Because Saladworks locations across the country will have to temporarily shut down when they undergo remodeling to match the new standard, Sugrue and his team decided to use food trucks as a way to keep employees from having their hours cut and as a way to still provide service to customers. What they weren’t expecting, says Sugrue, is how much people loved the food truck. He even began wondering if these mobile locations would become a permanent part of the brand.
“We’ve had an insane response to our food truck,” says Sugrue. “It’s just reminded us the social currency a food truck has. We’ve found that when a food truck is present in a shopping center or in front of a Saladworks location, we’ve obstructed people's’ patterns and made it more visual. We thought we were providing a temporary solution to a temporary challenge, but we’re seeing that the food truck is making new potential customers consider Saladworks.”
There’s no doubt that 2017 will be an exciting year for Saladworks.