More lunchtime options in the mixt
The business is a family affair. Chef Andrew Swallow (a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America) left the high-end dining world to create a counter-service restaurant that showcased seasonal ingredients. His sister, Leslie Silverglide, partnered with him to make the business environmentally friendly by offering biodegradable takeout containers and using renewable and recycled building materials. Silverglide's husband, David, brought some business savvy to the table. The first location launched in 2005. The chain now has three shops in San Francisco and the owners are looking to move into Seattle and Los Angeles. "D.C. is our first jump," says Leslie. The locations are: 1200 19th St. NW (slated to open Jan. 26), 1311 F St. NW (February), 1700 K St. NW (March) and 927 15th St. NW (April).
The menu will change four times a year, but the gist is this. Walk up to the counter at one of the locations, and you'll be introduced to a salad chef (also CIA grads, says Swallow). You can either select one of Swallow's menu creations or pick and choose your elements with the chef. (The chef says he aims to source as many products as possible from local farms, but his ingredients may come from all along the East Coast.)
Sound familiar? Chop't, Sweetgreen and larger chains like Cosi and Corner Bakery already have a foothold in the crowded lunchtime market with somewhat similar concepts. The family insists that their chain is different, mainly due to Swallow's culinary background. "Everything that we produce is produced in house," says Swallow, whose salad cookbook will publish in April. "It's brought in raw and prepared from recipes that I've written, so you're not opening a jar of salad dressing."
About those salad dressings: the herbs for the mixtures and some of the lettuces for the salads themselves will come directly off an "edible living wall" garden in all the Washington stores. The restaurateurs launched a prototype in one of their San Francisco stores last week and love its look and the message it sends to customers.
"We can take ingredients and herbs right off the wall," says Leslie. "You can't really get more local than that."
-- Julia Beizer
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