By Becky Bracken
The idea sounds simple enough: Make better, healthier food more accessible to everyday people at an affordable price. Making that idea a reality turns out to be a far more complicated affair.
It’s an idea Roushan Christofellis and her husband Tony became determined to tackle when they realized their own diet was mirroring that of their parents, who were struggling through heart disease and other health issues related to what they were eating.
“We made a pact that we weren’t going to follow in our family’s footsteps,” Christofellis said.
It wasn’t easy. Good, healthy foods like fruits and vegetables have a short shelf life and can be expensive. So when the couple launched their already hugely successful Salad and Go restaurants, they realized the focus would need to be on the food and convenience. No big dining rooms. A small physical footprint would help make up for food costs.
And it worked. Plans for locations number eight and nine of Salad and Go are already underway in just over four years since its launch.
But Christofellis realized there was another niche Salad and Go was positioned to tackle. With brands like Blue Apron and HelloFresh offering healthier food options by subscription, Salad and Go decided to put their own spin on the idea – Meals and Go.
Here’s how it works: The service lets you sign up for, and customize, a weekly subscription plan of 6, 12, 18 or 24 breakfasts, lunches and dinners. The cost is always $6 per meal. You choose the menu item and customize the protein with chicken, steak or tofu. For breakfast, you can opt for egg whites in egg dishes.
Breakfast options include hearty, satisfying meals like breakfast enchiladas or coconut and berry quinoa. Lunch and dinner menu choices range from American classics with protein, pasta and veggies to stuffed peppers and even barbacoa, a form of cooking meat that originated in the Caribbean.
After the orders are submitted online, the meals are prepared, sealed in airtight containers and chilled until you drive through your closest Salad and Go location for pickup.
“You can drive through and get your whole week’s worth of meals and grab a smoothie for the road,” Christofellis said.
All of the meals will last seven days in the refrigerator and just need two quick minutes in the microwave before they’re ready to eat.
The idea of quick, affordable, healthy food made to order and handed out through a drive through window is catching on.
“We launched the service in November and we sold out in a week,” Christofellis said.
All of the meals are gluten- and preservative-free, never frozen and never include added refined sugars. Only honey and coconut sugars are added to the meals. Produce, just like for Salad and Go menu items, are sourced locally, when possible. A nutritionist was consulted to help make the menu both delicious and nutritious.
Look for Salad and Go and the Christofellis family to continue to grow their restaurant and subscription concepts. They recently hired a CEO, Bobby Shaw, who spent time working on big-time operations like Chipotle and Freebirds.
It’s a career path Christofellis, a former first grade teacher at C.I. Waggoner Elementary in Tempe, never saw herself pursuing. But based on the explosive growth of the Salad and Go business over the short four years since it launched, the restaurant game is one she seems poised to influence across the East Valley and beyond.
Healthy, fast, affordable food for everyone: Maybe not so simple to pull off, but certainly something people are eating up – one meal, and one subscription, at a time.