Don’t expect a sit-down meal at the fast-growing chain Salad and Go. You can’t dine inside since it’s drive-thru only, with options for pick-up of online and mobile app orders. Welcome to the new world of fast, quick dining.
But Charlie Morrison, CEO of Salad and Go, since April 2022, which is based in Phoenix, Az., and maintains 95 plus company-owned locations, within four states, pointed out that a salad and beverage cost under $8 at his chain. Talk about undercutting the prices of its competitors.
Morrison has the requisite CEO background since he served in that capacity at Wingstop Restaurants for nearly a decade from 2012 to April 2022.
Hence, Salad and Go’s revenue is produced exclusively from drive-thru sales and online orders, not sit-down guests. In fact, 82% of its revenue derives from drive-thru and 18% from online orders.
Salad and Go believes in drive-thru only to suit its on-the-go customers and serves them healthy dinners, for under $10 a person.
Why doesn’t Salad and Go offer any sit-down dining? Morrison replied that “Convenience is at the top of the mind for consumers and our products are tailored for convenience.” He said that it recognizes that most people live “busy and active lifestyles. We want to make fresh and nutritious food for everyone.”
Most of Salad and Go’s 95 locations cluster in two states: with over 50 in Arizona and over 40 in Texas, supplemented by four in Oklahoma and two in Nevada.
Most of its stores contain small footprints of 750-square-feet, enabling it to expand at lower costs, keep its foot costs down and minimize waste. It also lowers costs by its maintaining two food production facilities in Arizona and Texas.
That integrated approach of delivering food no more than a 24-hour drive away from its locations enables it to “wash its produce, cut it and bag it” and produce an efficient business model, Morrison noted.
Meals for under $10
Hence its 48-ounce salads with chicken or tofu as protein and wraps sell for $6.42, 24-ounce drinks for $1.24 and breakfast burritos for $3.34. That means guests can have lunch or dinner with a beverage for under $10.
It also streamlines its menu, which consists of eight salads with house-made dressing and a choice of proteins (chicken, steak and tofu). Guests can customize salads at the same price. Calories vary depending on ingredients; most average about 600 calories.
Quick-service but not fast-food
Morrison noted that consumers can buy every type of fast food for under a $10 price, such as burger and fries, but “what is lacking is healthy options that are affordable.” At Salad and Go, he
emphasizes they go through the drive-thru in fewer than five minutes and buy a healthy meal for that price.
He said that fast-food has a negative connotation and he views its food as more of “the quick-service industry.”
It has what Morrison described as an “aggressive growth plan to have 135 stores by the end of 2023.” The company is owned by Volt Investments Holdings, a New York City and London based private equity company.
Asked if Volt Investment is likely to grow the business and cash out, as is often the case with private equity firms, Morrison replied that Volt has the “same belief in the scalability of our business model.” Moreover, he added it’s owned the salad chain for six years, and the message is “we’ll stay there as long as we need to be.”
Its lower prices help attract a crowd. It’s located predominantly in cities and suburbs, but is making inroads in rural settings, and appeals to a wide range of professionals, families and working-class folks based on its pricing.
Don’t call Grubhub or DoorDash
Unlike most other restaurant chains, Salad and Go declines to partner with third-party deliverers of any kind. “We believe that the added cost of delivery is too significant to maintain our value proposition,” Morrison said. In fact, many third-party deliverers charge about $6 for delivering an order, which would nearly double its pricing, he indicated.
On Yelp, many of its customers appreciate its discounted prices. For example, Jared from Garland, Tx., praised the food and service, but noted that it’s “one of the few places you can get lunch for under $20. It’s just as good as Sweetgreen and Salada, but half the price and twice as fast.”
Asked where he expects Salad and Go to be in two years, Morrison said, “We’re going to demonstrate significant growth and expansion across markets, and add new markets such as Florida, and new production facilities there as well.”
Morrison described its three keys to continued success as: “great people from our team; a disciplined operating model and telling the world about out great product.”