Salad Sells: How Chop't Chain Became an Empire

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Aug. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Nick Marsh, Chief Executive Officer at Chop’t Creative Salad, explains his company’s approach to making salad a main meal while expanding its menu and growing the brand across the country. He speaks on “Market Makers.”

Americans eat better.

Know, your mission is to make money, don't be ridiculous.

Unfortunately now, there is so much demand that we are able to create a profitable business.

Even though some of your salads can be 800 calories.

You can choose a lot of calories or you can choose not a lot of calories.

You can be healthy or you can indulge.

For us, it is all about how to make festival at eating easy for people.

As you pointed out, the vegetables, maybe the broadly pushed over here and maybe there is a little side of salad.

For us, but we try to answer is how do we bring faraway flavors, how do we visit different regions and understand different cultures and the food that comes from their and integrated into local ingredients.

You can eat a healthy lunch or a healthy dinner.

What other markets do you believe that the chopped model will work in?

Here's what has been amazing over the readers or so, we get tons of feedback to a website and one of the most common comments we got is, hey, i visited your restaurant and when will you open one in my hometown, i think three or four years ago, that always came from los angeles or san francisco.

It was sort of a coastal phenomenon.

Over the past two years, it is no longer driven by the coast.

What we are getting now is from people in town and cities in the midwest, in the south in places where they're saying, i cannot get what you do.

There is tremendous competition in that space, particularly in major cities in new york.

You have places like sweet greens that pride themselves on local sourcing.

How do you distinguish when it seems like everyone is doing it?

The competition goes way beyond the other solid players.

You have two of the greatest chefs of our generation.

Still, with the same concept of helping people get better.

That was really sort of the first time or early on when the idea of bringing salads to the side dishes came.

We are still an entrepreneurial driven company.

Those guys have a theory clear vision of where we want festival eating to go.

You have a few changes and surprising us coming.

Is that mean different ingredients?

Is a salad have to have lead us?

I actually don't love the fact that there's a lot of lettuce.

So, i always order half lettuce.

In fact?

I was just tell them before, it's too much lettuce.

I think that is a question that we asked him a when does it become a salad or not.

We are introducing a line that we call warrior bowls.

It is grain-based.

So, we continue to explore ideas like that.

Other restaurant chains have tried to go big on salad.

Mcdonald's, for example, with mixed results.

Is it a better business selling the salads for $12 and it is for six dollars?

The bar certainly higher.

One of the things that comes with, first of all, the fact that mcdonald's tries to do that and wendy's tries to do that demonstrates to me that there is nationwide demand for this, if it was only a coastal issue, you would not see the super big chains getting into salad.

This is the product that people are demanding.

At the $12 price point or we really try to shoot for the $10 price point.

Some of it is related to rent in manhattan.

But, we are constantly trying to evolve and surprise people with the quality of what we do.

What is your margin goal?

I have to think that sourcing locally can get very expensive.

So, i tell the story to people all the time, if you think about the product that we serve, the lettuce that we serve, it has to be planted by a person.

It has to grow when the field.

It has to get picked and truck hopefully not too far.

The amount of economic input that goes into the ingredients in our bowl, and makes it a very very challenging business to deliver the quality that we want at the price point that consumers are willing to pay.

So, what about margins?

What is the goal?

The goal for us is that we can run and generate north of 20% margin at our restaurants.

Operating margin?

Yes.

Used to have this loyalty card, now you have migrated the loyalty aspect of your business to the iphone.

This annoys some people.

You're trapped in the apple world and they wondered to themselves, what are they doing with the data?

It is also on android.

It is still annoying to some people who say that i don't want to deal with the phone.

We do believe that one of the things that we're trying to do is that we believe we are a modern company.

We believe we are forward-looking.

We believe that history will be on the side of this move from plastic cards to the phones.

Right now what we use, we give you more stuff.

If you are on our app, we send you, come in and try this, we will give you two dollars off if you do this.

Overall, it has been pretty well received.

Some say you don't go mobile, you die.

In our restaurants in new york city, 25% of our transactions are now on the phone.

What is the winning ingredient that you cannot get right now?

You could argue, like a year ago , quinoa.

If something doesn't happen with the weather in california, there will be a lot of things we will not be able to get.

Right now, avocados are scarce.

As people of avocados.

What is the single biggest challenge to running your business and expanding it to where you want to be five years from now?

In the restaurant industry, massively people intensive business.

When you talk about growth, you have to remember no matter what you do, no matter how many great things i can tell you, we need a great restaurant manager to execute the vision at the store level.

For us, what we found was sort of a 25% unit growth rate is where we can be expanding the brand, feeling good about our growth, but also have the time and the stability to make sure that our managers are properly trained.

What we have added to that is we have a managing partner program, so the managers earn a percentage of cash flow of the restaurant that they operate and it helps to maintain that entrepreneurial spirit.

I have two requests.

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.

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