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Posted at 4:26 PM ET, 12/11/2009

More lunchtime options in the mixt

By Julia Beizer

"Edible living walls" will be installed in all four Mixt Greens locations opening in Washington next year. The shop uses melted ice to water these wall gardens. (Wall fabrication by Hugo McCloud; Photo by Frank Paletta)

Coming soon to Washington: More competition for your lunchtime dollars. San Francisco-based chain Mixt Greens plans to launch four stores in downtown D.C. in the first half of next year. The restaurants will offer salads, sandwiches and -- as a special treat just for Washingtonians -- soups in winter.

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

By Julia Beizer  | December 11, 2009; 4:26 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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Comments

Their names are Swallow and Silverglide- really? They are coming here from San Francisco to sell us high-priced salads and soup. Good luck with that!

Posted by: justmike | December 11, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Family affair? Mixt greens was acquired by mega chain Organic To Go - (www.omholdings.net) - and is funded by Nestle. The CEO used to run Fuddruckers and Taco Cabana and was fired by both for misconduct. Doesn't sound so "green" to me. Anyways, good luck in DC

Posted by: greengoblin | December 16, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Exciting! I'm a fan of mixt greens. Yes, high-priced soups & salads (which, as it happens, will fit right into this town), but they serve diners with real dishes & silverware if you eat in. For the same price as chop't or sweetgreen, I prefer a real fork and bowl.

Posted by: dc_colonial | December 17, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

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